Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Digital Artist in a Digital World

Terry took of for a weekend to shop with her friend Elaine Pasekoff in Miami.While she was gone, I spent my Sunday trying to figure out a new digital paint program called SAI. The program is pretty intuitive and it allows for quick spontaneous mixing of colors right on the sketch. Several times last week I was sketching in theaters where the house lights were out for the duration of the show. That meant sketching and painting in the dark. On one occasion I used my cell phone as a light source but that meant I had to hold the cell phone with my left hand which made it impossible to hold the palette. I'm coming up with a simple clamp, lamp stand device which could hold the cell phone but haven't figured out the design yet. It would have to fold up to be put back in the art back once the sketch is done.

SAI Paint Program could be an alternative for dark theaters as well. The tablet obviously generated its own light. It would however likely be considered intrusive however if there were other audience members in the theater. You might recall that someone was shot and killed for using their cell phone in a movie theater down here in Florida. SAI offers me the ability to apply saturated colors behind the line sketch and a quick way to paint gradations and highlights. As a paint program it is superior to Sketchbook Pro which doesn't allow for mixing colors.

There is a major problem however in that SAI doesn't have pressure sensitivity on my Motion Computing tablet. This means that lines don't start out thin and then grow thicker as pressure is applied to the stylus. It is a major drawback. Sketchbook Pro does have pressure sensitivity so putting down lines is intuitive and fun. I spent the whole day trying to figure out how to switch drivers and or turn on the sensitivity. After a solid eight hours or so of research online, I was no closer to an answer.

When Terry got home and started to watch a movie, I decided to do a sketch using Sketchbook Pro and then I imported that sketch into SAI and started to paint. Bold brush strokes don't necessarily always need pressure sensitivity but because of that, I spent far too much time switching brush sizes to go back and forth between thick and thin.

Wacom has a new Cintiqu Companion that is just like my tablet in that it can be used as a digital sketchbook. I looked up several videos that show it using SAI with all it's sensitive features in use. My Motion tablet was designed for field technicians and nurses so it wasn't designed with the artist in mind. For now I'll continue to use the Motion tablet with this two program workaround. If I keep doing digital sketches I might be able to speed up the process so that it can be used every day. It basically makes it possible to have rich color quickly and apply light opaque paint over a dark base. I might start using gouache paint in my sketchbook to get a feel for a similar effect using real paint. If I switch to doing digital sketches, then there is no longer any original sketch to sell. The original would only be a computer file and I would have to sell prints. It is a catch 22, I love the look that is possible digitally, but there is a definite advantage to having an original sketchbook which can be stored away on a book shelf. I've had computers and tables die before and when that happens all the digital sketches disappear on the lost hard drive. I would have to get much better at creating and backing up a digital bookcase. Technology keeps changing which makes archiving work a constant challenge. When I first started this blog, my intention was to switch back and and forth between traditional and digital sketches. I might be bringing that experiment back again.

After two days of endless research online, I finally found an article that helped me resolve the issue of no pressure sensitivity. I deleted the Wacom driver and downloaded and installed  the latest European version of the Wacom driver. Since SAI was written by a Japanese company, it makes sense that a European driver would work.  I was amazed and elated that it finally worked.

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, July 30, 2014

Corsets and Cuties Brings a Lush Cabaret and Burlesque to The Venue

On July 23rd I went to a rehearsal for a Double Trouble Production of Corsets and Cuties, a Burlesque Cabaret. I made the mistake of first going to The Venue. Luckily I was a bit early and when I looked at the calendar on my cell phone, I realized I was supposed to be at Dreamworks Dance Studio a couple of miles away. The Dance studio is in a strip mall right next to Clemmons Produce Plaza which had huge watermelons in the window. When I arrived at Dreamworks, I found Babs and her husband waiting at the door to the dance studio. Babs is a producer of the show, along with Lady Jaimz. It turns out, I had sketched Babs before at a body painting party at DRIP on International Drive. Her talents had turned her model into a glittering white pixie fairy.

As we waited for someone to arrive with a key, it began to pour. Thankfully we were under cover. Performers who arrived late however were soaked along with their costumes. When one performer arrived, she complained that she had stabbed herself on the porcupine quills that were sticking out of a pocket in her purse. Now that is an occupational hazard you don't hear about very often. I can't imagine what kind of costume would require porcupine quills. I once took a survey to find out which Indian spirit animal I most resembled. It turns out I am a porcupine.  The porcupine walks through the world with quiet confidence. He is keenly aware of his surroundings and always prepared. He protects himself with authority without being outwardly aggressive.

I helped cover the front windows of the dance studio with tarps since there would be partial nudity at times.  It was Bab's birthday and performers showered her with flowers and balloons. The back dressing room became a buzz of activity as the women and one male performer got into costumes. Corsets were tightened and glitter and feathers were everywhere. Risa Risqué is the performer who was kind enough to arrange my sketch outing. I spotted her in the audience of Legally Blonde way up in Eustis. She has a tattoo of tiny angels wings nestled between her shoulder blades. It is one of the classiest tattoos I've seen. I've often wondered what image I could commit to for the remainder of my life and as a visual artist my tastes change too often. I sketched Risa as she adjusted her frilly svelte costume in the mirror. I then focused on Lady Jaimz as she introduced the show. I figured she would return center stage between acts giving me multiple chances to refine her sketch. I was right.

Frank arrived. He is a blow up doll that is integral to Bab's first number.  He was a bit flaccid when he first arrived, so she had to blow him up until he was rock hard. The inflation nipple isn't locate where you would expect it to be. It was in the small of his back. He was a marvelous dance partner and she helped him strip. He was fully anatomically endowed and it was hilarious when she had him nestle between her ample breasts. Like most men, he was a disappointment and she cast him aside. Seven performers sang during their burlesque routines. They are consummate performers with good lungs and a knowledge of how to entice with humor. There was one costume mishap when Honey Child's banana belt fell off as she danced. Group dance numbers were well choreographed and polished. One group number had all the girls and Jax N. Augh wearing hats. After he stripped, he kept the hat over his privates and then let go. The hat dangled in front of him as if by magic. Even the girls dancing with him were laughing. This is going to be one hell of a show!

Mark Your Calendar! Corsets and Cuties, 2 shows only! 9pm on August 1st and 2nd at The Venue (511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Fl)   The shows are already sold out folks.

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, July 29, 2014

A Hike Down Monument Avenue in Richmond Virginia

In April. Terry and I traveled to Richmond Virginia to attend a wedding of one of Terry's clients, Thomas Justin Morton to Andrea Marie Kastner. The day we arrived, we decided to take a hike up Monument Avenue. This main drag had traffic circles about every other block on which large Civil War era monuments were erected. The Robert E. Lee monument stands at the corner of Allen Avenue and Monument Avenue. Terry continued to hike to see the remaining monuments while I stopped to sketch.

The Virginia Commonwealth Campus had beautiful old historic buildings. We actually spotted another urban sketcher who was sketching one of the buildings. She was in the middle of the sketch, so I didn't interrupt her. The entire street had amazing architecture along with some fixer uppers that would make a gorgeous studio. I'm sure the price of real estate would make that dream less practical.

Terry and I were staying in the Jefferson Hotel (101 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA) which is rated five stars and is absolutely gorgeous. The room itself wasn't that amazing but the lobby was worth every penny. One scene in Gone with the Wind was shot on the grand staircase. Any time we weren't at wedding related parties. we were happy to explore this city by foot. It was an Urban Sketchers dream, a step back in time.

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, July 28, 2014

Real Estate Showcase Event at Snap! Space

On April 23rd as my Retrospective Exhibit was still hanging as Snap! Space (1013 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL), a Real Estate Showcase Event was held in the gallery. Jim Lussier contacted me, saying, "As the Artist in residence, I think you should hang out with us and take a bow. Please bring Terry with you if she is free. We will have about 100 people in the space from all aspects of the Real Estate industry for a 2 hour Meet and Greet. I have another idea I’d like to run past you. We want to collect everyone’s business cards and have a drawing for ….a piece of Thorspecken art? I thought one of two things – either identify a piece you already have that you would part with for $300, or create a small piece at our event, and award it “hot off the press.” Third idea – we will award a selected piece that we purchase from you for $300, or, at the winner’s option, we will contribute $300 if the winner wants to purchase a more expensive piece from the collection. Maybe you have a better idea. We want you and Terry to come no matter what. Please call me when you have a couple of minutes. Thanks! We are very excited to be having our event surrounded by your work."

I decided to go with the option of awarding a print done from the sketch done that night. The event did get rather crowded and the sketch was presented with a flourish. I made the print the next day and dropped it off at Snap. The exhibit was financially more successful than I expected.  Enough originals and prints were sold to cover the framing costs and there was a profit of about $8000. Having the frames has made it easier to showcase my work at other venues as well. I exhibited a series of paintings based on Emotions Dance rehearsals and sold over $2,000 worth of originals and prints. This is the type of collaboration I need to be doing more often. Snap founder, Patrick Kahn, arranged to exhibit my work is now on display at East End Market (3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL) through August.

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, July 27, 2014

The Case of the Cervical Spine

Jillian O'Connor and her daughters hired me to sketch Dennis O'Connor, their father and husband as a gift for his birthday. On the evening before the court date, Jill sent me an e-mail to let me know that the trial would be in courtroom G of the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford. Unfortunately I didn't read the e-mail until 1:30pm after I had written several articles. Court had started at 9am. Jill decided to sit in on the trial. This was the first time she had watched Dennis in a courtroom in 30 years. I called her in a panic and asked if the trial was still underway. She whispered that it was. I rushed to get dressed and quickly drove up to Sanford. I knew I was up against the clock since the trial would likely shut down for the day at 5pm.

I had to take my shoes off for security when I got to the courthouse but all my art supplies slipped through without a hitch.  Courtroom G is rather small with just 2 pews for spectators. There was a full jury but I knew better than to try and sketch them. Jill sat in the back pew wearing a red dress. I had seen Dennis in one photo and I spotted him as the lawyer on the far right with the yellow legal pad. I quickly sketched him in and then focused on everyone else. Judge Alan A. Dickey presided. For much of the time he seemed to focus on his computer the same was true of the court officer and the woman seated next to her. The most active person in the courtroom was the stenographer who often moved to get closed to anyone who was speaking.

The case involved a cervical spine injury of Samantha Stringer Bobbitt. Blame was implied again and again in the cross examination of a medical expert named Dr. Jones, who was paid $4000 for his time in court. Earlier in the day Dr. Scharfman had been examined as a medical expert. I actually used to go to Dr. Scharfman to try and handle constant headaches I suffer from due to a pinched nerve in my neck. The doctor prescribed a series of drugs, three of which I still take today so that I can function. Over time the drug cocktail seems to have lost it's effectiveness and I have stoically resigned myself to the fact that living is painful. However whenever I sketch, I forget about the pain as I wrestle with the creative process. So, I identified with Samantha's plight as they outlined six years in which she went to numerous specialists to try and control her pain. The human body is a frail and delicate structure with a nerve filled tent pole of a spine to defy gravity. Age and trauma either from daily chores or an accident can  cause those nerves if pinched to constantly send a signal of pain to the brain. It seems odd that so much expense went into finding a blame for the pain.

No expense was spared to create graphics to sway the juries opinions. Dennis's team of lawyers had a large dry mounted poster made up of a view of someone's back with hundreds of acupuncture needles protruding out of it. The opposing lawyer said that he didn't even object at the use of the image because of how creative Dennis's argument had been. Dennis knew Dr. Jones socially but on the stand he had to try and sway and challenge the doctors opposing opinion.

At 5pm the judge called for a recess. Dennis introduced his wife to the judge and he explained that this was her first time ever in the courtroom. After the jury left, the judge chastised the lawyers, saying the trial was taking much too long. He said if they didn't pick up the pace, then he would call a mistrial. After the judge left the lawyers justified their days work reassuring each other that it was hard to cover six years of medical treatment in a single day. The court officer noticed I was still sketching and she asked if I was actively involved with the defendant or the prosecution. I paused, not sure what to say, it was obvious she planned to kick me out of the courtroom. Dennis's assistant council covered for me saying I was involved in the presentation materials. If Dennis wasn't suspicious about what I was doing, he must have suspected after that little power play. In the end, I'm not sure of the outcome of the case of Samantha's spine, the backbone of truth was lost in a mountain of detail and grey innuendo. I do know a lot of money is involved.

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, July 26, 2014

Red Bull presented Hip Art Inspired Water Cooler Conversation

On July 24th, Red Bull Curates presented the Orlando Canvas Cooler Project in the gorgeous Orchid Room at 122 West Church Street which was once Paris Hilton's Nightclub. As I arrived, Red Bull girls with backpacks were getting ready to work the venue in their tight shorts and v-neck shirts. They were about to climb a metal fire escape staircase to enter the building. I asked if that was the entrance and she pointed me toward a door around the corner with a Mini Cooper that had a huge Red Bull can on the roof. There were two entrances, one for media and one for everyone else. I decided to walk in the Media door. The volunteer looked for my name on the list and I wasn't there. I repeated my name several times until she said, "Alright, you must be media." If you believe you are the media, then you are the media. I had a tablet in my bag because I want to start drawing with it more often. I decided to stick with paper however since the room was so spacious that I felt I needed to work across a large spread in my sketchbook. Digitally, I tend to spend too much time zooming in and out of the program which means I'm not sketching as fast.

20 Orlando artists were picked to decorate Red Bull coolers. Of these artists tow were picked for the possibility of being picked for the chance to have their creation show at this year's Art Basel in Miami Beach. Judges for the Orlando event included, Sam Flax Owner of Sam Flax Art Supply, Patrick Kahn the founder of Snap! Cultural Events, Inc, Commissioner Patty Sheehan of Orlando District 4 , Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon the curator of Jai Gallery,and Erin Sullivan the Senior editor at the Orlando Weekly.  

Featured artists were, Brandon McLean, Andrew Spear, Skippy, Adaro Art, Winkstyles, Soco Freire, Peter Van Flores III, DRES13, Holly Tharp, Chris Rodriguez, Christopher Reason, Swamburger, Peterson, Sean Hartman, Christie Miga, SPEN and Wolfrich. There were a wide variety of colorful styles. I was a bit disappointed that all the coolers were already finished. I had hoped to sketch the artists at work. They had eight hours to complete the work on the Sunday and Monday before the event. Canvas tarps were spread around the venue and tables so the artists wouldn't make too much of a mess. Christie Miga claimed she was so nervous about the event that she was considering backing out. She did an amazing job however when the ax hit the grindstone.

Sketching the event was a challenge since the crowd was endless and ever shifting. People stopped to say hello every few minutes, and I was happy to say hello but then got right back to work. I didn't have the luxury of being able to relax when the sketch was still unfinished. Billy Franchey, from Artsfund introduced himself and he was fascinated by what I do, but he didn't have a business card and neither did I. He is responsible for these events all over the country. Terry explored the room and was able to interact socially with everyone we knew. The winners for the evening were Marcos Cruz and Gregorii.  Both artists are represented by Jai gallery. Their pieces might end up in the scope art Fair in Miami as part of Art Basel but they are up against 10 other who were winners in cities around the countryThere was also a peoples choice award that was given to G. Lemus. A social media contest in November could put him in contention as well to have his creation shown in Miami's Art Basel. The next Red Bull Curates events will be in Houston on August 14th and in Philadelphia on September 25th.

As I walked Terry back to her car, she told me that Patty Sheehan had told her that the Red Bull marketing people might like me to document future events around the country. It is funny that I was working so hard that no one mentioned this idea to me. I suppose people don't want to interrupt me when I'm in the middle of the process.

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, July 25, 2014

AADW Weekend Top Six Picks For July 26th & 27th

Saturday July 26, 2014
9am to 4pm Free.  National Dance Day Orlando. Orlando Ballet Central Campus 2201 McRae Ave Orlando, FL. PARKING 2399 McRae Ave  Orlando, FL.
National Dance Day Orlando will host its second annual celebration that aims to educate, inspire, and promote the Orlando dance community. This event has been specially designed to promote progressive development of dancers, celebrate the diversity of Central Florida's dance professionals, and further connect the Orlando dance community.
This year’s event will encourage dancers and non dancers alike to participate in a variety of 15 free dance workshops. These classes are taught by local Orlando dance company directors, choreographers and fitness instructors who will be leading participants through body conditioning, dance technique and choreography at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. NDDO desires to bring opportunities to those who love the art of dance and encourage ongoing education. Let's celebrate and support this creative expression and healthy lifestyle together!
9am: Yoga / Improvisation / Beg Ballet
10:15am: Choreography 101 / Int-Adv Jazz / Swing
11:30am: Hip Hop / Adv Contemporary / Salsa
1:30pm: Beg-Int Contemporary / Jazz Funk / Afro-Latin Dance Fusion
2:45pm: Dance Fitness / Broadway / Int-Adv Ballet
Event Website:

4:30pm to 6:30pm Free.  In Stitches - Free Sewing/Alterations Class. Lil Indies 1036 N Mills Ave (Next Door to Will's Pub), Orlando, Fl. This is the first of what will be (hopefully!) a monthly meetup about sewing, tailoring/alterations, upcycling/recycling garments, and anything else your little hearts desire to learn about making clothes.
For this first gathering, I'll be demonstrating how to make a few basic fit alterations and how to reconstruct a vintage piece for a better, more stylish fit.
You're welcome to bring something frumpy that you found at a thrift store (or just something from your closet that needs revamping), and we can figure out what to do with it!
Oh, and the location means, yes, there will be drinks. Woohoo!

7pm to 10pm Free. 2nd Annual Winter Park Canine Memorial. Harbor Park 4990 New Broad Street Orlando Fl. Floating lanterns at Dusk.

Sunday July 27, 2014
10am to Noon. Free. Super Joy Riders. Eastern entrance of the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market.
You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever
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.
The Super Joy Riders: Do Gooder Bike Ride is an exercise in community organizing and active engagement. We hope to use the ride as an opportunity to show how helping people can be simple, fun, and easy, especially while wearing a cape.
We are inviting Orlando to come with us on a fun filled bike ride of awesomeness on the last Sunday of the month. Dress like a superhero, hop on a bike, and follow our scavenger hunt list of Good Deeds as we all try to save the world with small acts of kindness.

Noon to 5pm. Free but imbibe.  Sunday's with Smiling Dan. The Falcon Bar and Gallery, 819 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL. DJ Smiling Dan mixes tunes all afternoon.

7pm to 9pm $10 Departures. The Venue 511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Fl. Join Red Right Return for an evening of experimental dance works featuring new movement by Elise Frost, Heidi Busher, Kim Matovina, and the dancers of Red Right Return! This will also be a farewell celebration as we send off our fearless founder and director, Elise Frost, to grad school- not to mention a continuance of the fun National Dance Day events from Saturday!
Tickets: $10 cash/credit/debit at the door
Reservations can be made by phone:
(407) 504-7452

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, July 24, 2014

Elite Animation Academy Keeps the Tradition of Hand Drawn Animation Alive

Elite Animation Academy (8933 Conroy Windermere Rd, Orlando, FL) is located only a few blocks away from my home. I've been asked to step in and substitute teach a couple of times and had a blast doing it. I was issued a black polo shirt with the Elite logo that made me feel like a member of the team from the start. The pay is actually better than what I make at Full Sail University so I was happy to step up to the plate.

The first day I interviewed there with Gladys West, I decided to stay and see another instructor, Chi Wang, at work. He was teaching a class on comic book character design. His laptop was open and connected to a large screen TV. Sketches of multiple comic book character heads filled the screen. Three students sketched diligently trying to emulate the heads. Basic proportions were covered and then the students sketched for the rest of the class. As the students worked, Chi, stood at the white board and cranked out an amazing sketch of a Transformer. Students were so involved in their own sketches that they didn't glance up. I am always fascinated and inspired watching another artist work.

The first class I taught was on perspective. I covered the basics of 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective and I got the students involved in studying the perspective in the room around them. The room has vintage Disney Feature Animation Desks circling the central work area. Computers are found in a separate area. I had the students draw a single desk using the 3 principles of animation. Then I had them imagine the desk as a giant skyscraper in a city. I helped as we created intricate city blocks.

The second time I stopped in, I had just finished a huge rushed storyboard assignment, so I showed them the scripts, thumbnails and final storyboards I had created. It was a solid real world crash coarse on what it is like to be a professional artist. I then pitched them a simple story idea and they began doing thumbnails to built their story. I just had three students, but they impressed me with their ideas and execution. We batted around ideas and laughed at the possibilities. One student was working on his own story and I asked him to pitch the story to me. Once I knew what direction he was taking, I made suggestions on how he could make each character unique by giving them a shape that separated and defined them. I suggested he try to draw the male protagonist with nothing but straight lines and then I had him draw the female lead with nothing but curves. His work took an immediate leap.

At Full Sail there are 30 to 40 new students every month that take 10 classes and then move on.  There just isn't enough time to turn so many students into animators. At Elite it was such a luxury to have a few students that were hungry to learn. Gladys is very aware of my daily sketch routine, and I appreciate that she considers me a valuable asset because of that. With the few classes I taught, I felt that I could truly inspire and  start these kids towards a lifetime of learning and sharing. That is what art is all about.

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, July 23, 2014

Red Bull BC One Orlando Cypher Brings Insane Dance Moves to Full Sail Live

Red Bull BC One was founded in 2004 in Biel, Switzerland. Over the years, the championship has moved from Germany to Brazil, South Africa, France, the USA, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Today it remains a key event in Hip Hop culture, pushing the art forward to new levels while holding true to the original one-on-one battle format. Loaded with spins, flips, and acrobatics, B-Boy has been a prevalent form uniquely urban dance art for decades and has become a staple of hip-hop culture around the globe.

Last year marked the biggest year yet for Red Bull BC One, with its eight past champions competing against eight new challengers. Millions tuned in from around the globe to watch the battle go down in South Korea, where Seoul’s own Hong 10 took home his second World Champion belt.

I got to this year's event right after work on June 7th. A large crowd was gathered in the center of the floor with people testing their dance skills as others watched. A bus load of children had arrived and the youngsters had some mad skills. It was fun seeing them show some urban attitude as they challenged each other. They might get up in each others face, but there was a strict rule of no touching. I didn't stay to see the big boys compete. I only had one hour to sketch because I was going to meet Terry at Jeans and Jewels fundraising event. The two events couldn't be more polar opposites. I relaxed at Terry's event and had a few drinks.

“We had 16 of the top dancers in B-Boy competing in the Red Bull BC One Orlando event,” Jose ‘Keebz’ Abdiel said. “The talent level was incredibly high, and it all came down to technique.” Ultimately, Tung “Tung Fu” Phan, 22, was crowned Red Bull BC One Orlando Cypher champion. From Orlando, he will be advancing to the National Finals in Las Vegas on August 16. represents the largest online network of B-Boys and fans; and the event is home to the biggest Facebook community in the scene, with more than 1.2 million fans. The Finals and World Final will be live-streamed at.

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, July 22, 2014

All Shook Up Brings the 50's to Life in Mount Dora

Opening the Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse's 67th season, All Shook Up, the Joe DiPietro musical features the love songs of Elvis Presley and characters and plot devices from "Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare to Mount Dora. The plot was paper thin with characters that were stereotypes with no any depth. The show was a reason  to string together as many Elvis songs as possible. Love was the driving force for the action and the music with back up by a live band backstage was fun, fast paced and at times spectacular. The set designed by David Clevinger had a barrage of commercial images and scenes. It was much like the show with many elements thrown together with no single point of interest. I became frustrated by the many set changes which would force me to stop sketching as the theater went black.

A small Midwestern town's  moral code is set by the Mame Eisenhower decency act. Then a roustabout (Fredy Ruiz) drives into town dressed like James Dean on a motorcycle. His motorcycle needs repair and Natelie, (Whitney Abell) the town mechanic is immediately smitten. She does everything she can to win the roustabout's love and she doesn't succeed until she decided to dress as a boy to approach him as a friend. The roustabout only has eyes for the exotic curator at the town museum (Carly Skubick) but she sees him as a brute with no culture. When she lets her hair down, watch out! Everyone in town seems to fall in love with the wrong person and then the show spins out of control to try and find balance and meaning in unrequited love.

Director, Darlin Barry, faced challenges bringing the show to the stage. The lead actor playing the roustabout wasn't showing up to rehearsals so she had to do something. Fredy stepped into the roll from withing the cast of about 20 actors. When everyone including the ensemble are on stage dancing the stage is close to overflowing. I was made aware of this dress rehearsal by stage mom Kathy Wilhelm Witkowski, who's daughter Corina was in the show. Corina introduced herself before the show and let me know that she had almost been in one of my sketches last year when I sketched the Buddy Holly Story at the Icehouse. She was on stage checking her cell phone on stage right and she walked back stage before I put her in the sketch. I kept my eyes open for her but she didn't appear on stage until very late in the first act when she posed as a statue with five other women in the museum. It was a perfect sketch opportunity, and I penciled her in the sketch several times as a statue but couldn't find a reason for showcasing a statue in the middle of the action that I had put in the sketch already. I had to erase her for the sake of the composition.

Sylvia, (Laurie Sullivan) who owns the local honky-tonk sang brilliantly. She courted Natalie's widowed father Jim (David Coalter). Songs in the show include "Jailhouse Rock," "Heartbreak Hotel," "One Night with You," "Love Me Tender", "Devil in Disguise" and "Can't Help Falling in Love." A five-piece band will accompany the singers with music director Justin Ward Weber on keyboards. The music often bought back memories of working on Lilo and Stitch which incorporated many of these Elvis songs in the soundtrack.

All Shook Up is a simple fun summer romp. It runs July 18th to August 3rd.
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The show is already 85% sold out. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 on Thursday and for seniors. Student tickets range from $10 to $15. For reservations or for more information, call 352-383-4616.

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, July 21, 2014

Gay Days Expo at Doubletree by Hilton

Gay Days was held in Orlando from June 3rd to June 9th. There were pool parties galore but each had a rather pricy cover. I decided to document the Gay Days Expo at Doubletree by Hilton Orlando (10100 Universal Drive Orlando FL). The expo featured vendors of all shapes and sizes. I discovered that the hotel charges for parking, so I drove down the street to an office complex I had once worked in and borrowed their garage. I had to walk maybe a quarter mile over to the hotel. This is the way I work exercise into my daily routine. It was of course a hot sweltering day, but the rad near Sea World cut through ancient palmettos and palms. It was like taking a stroll through an undeveloped Florida landscape. The view was only occasionally interrupted by harsh stylish hotels.

When I got to the Doubletree, I noticed someone painting a curb yellow on the opposite side of the driveway. I could small the paint. As I walked toward the hotel entrance, I glanced behind me and was horrified to see a trail of yellow foot prints leading back to where I had stepped into wet paint. The guy had painted the curb I had stepped on and not bothered to put any warning tape around it. Who in Florida would ever walk into a hotel? It is unheard of I suppose. My yellow foot prints were fading as I walked. Hopefully all the paint would were off before I entered the hotel lobby. Just to be sure, I scuffed my souls several timed.

It turned out that the expo hadn't started yet. Today was the day that vendors set up their booths. I was given a swag bag with condoms and other information for safe sex and invited to look around if I wanted to. Only a few booths were set up, but in a separate room, the sex toy paraphernalia was almost ready. Fairvilla Megastore had a booth that was ready for business. A mannequin wore some strange briefs that hugged the glut muscles. The vendor made sure the packaging was tight in the crotch. Another vendor unwrapped and hung his merchandise carefully. Several muscular men came in from the hotel pool and started asking questions. Their skin was still wet and glistening. The product the vendor was hanging is used to somehow stretch a mans ball sack. I never knew that a large and sagging ball sack was an attractive thing to strive for. One of the bathers noticed me and said, "He must be hearing everything we are talking about." I shouted back, I sure can, why do you think my legs are crossed?" Everyone laughed and they continued to discuss the best way to stretch sacks. Now I have to wonder if my own sack lives up to the ideal.

Other items on display included blowup dolls, dongs, items in leather and lace and feathery masks with Viking horns. Now the Viking horns were an item that I add spice in my day to day life. There were Midget dolls, Milf dolls, and dolls named like Big Jon, Jack, Miss Anna, and Bareback. Boxes were unpacked with care and time was running out. Vendors were told they only had 15 more minutes to finish for the day. Plans were made to go to The Parliament House for a party that night. There were parties all over town, but this would be my small taste of Gay Days for this year. When I left, my yellow footprints were still visible in the parking lot, but a warning sign and tape were now around the painted curbs. "Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints."

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, July 20, 2014

A Family Night Out at O' Stromboli Gourmet Italian Eatery

There was going to be an event at Taps From Scratch a new bar across the street from Stardust Video and Coffee. Right after work, I drove to the Audubon Garden District and since I had time to kill before the event, I had dinner at O' Stromboli Gourmet Italian Eatery (1803 East Winter Park Road Orlando, FL).  The last time I was inside this restaurant, there were zombies at a table eating spaghetti. I still regret that I didn't sketch that scene. The place looks totally different than I remembered. I think there has been a major renovation.

At the bar, a father and son were seated watching the Andy Griffith Show. The boy who was about the age of Opie, was exploring the restaurant. Staff had given him permission to wander behind the bar and into the kitchen. Dad was enjoying a beer and talking non-stop on his cell phone. Mom stopped in sweaty from an afternoon run. The waitress, all in black would occasionally run up a costumer's tab on the computer.

I decided to order a lasagna which was quite good. A fly had made his way into the restaurant and I spent much of my time swatting it away. In Germany I remember flies were a constant nuance in restaurants but they are usually less of a problem in America. That insistent bugger certainly detracted from my dining experience. Since I was also sketching my attention became scattered. After I ate there was still quite some time before the Taps from Scratch event. I decided to call it a night. I doubt I'll ever return to O'Stromboli unless I suspect zombies might be slurping up strands of spaghetti.

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, July 19, 2014

Skill Focus Burlesque Presents: Computer Crash Course

I went to a rehearsal for Skill Focus' Computer Crash Course. his nerdy burlesque show will be about memes, cats,  internet celebrities and everything else you need to know about computers. I was surprised that the rehearsal space was a suburban home only 5 minute drive from my home. Skill Focus: Burlesque, voted the Best Theater Company in the Orlando Weekly 2013 Best of pole,  is Orlando's one and only Nerdy Burlesque troupe. These ladies and gents combine their love of all things geeky with the sass and comedy of old-school burlesque, all while aiming to put on the most epic show you've ever seen.

The second I arrived, the full run through got started. An announcer began to describe exactly how burlesque should be done. Lita LaRoux acted out the poses described to comic effect. She interacted with her feather boa like she was wrestling a snake. She went through the entire routine like it was her first time which was charming and funny at the same time. She finally did disrobe to display a bright pink corset. That as well came off with a luxurious flourish.

Dahlia Ivory Paige performed as Carmin Sandieo in a long red trench coat and wide brim hat that made her look like a femme fatale from a Film nuor. She was the one performer who sang while she did her burlesque act. She actually had a really good singing voice which in itself is worth the price of admission. Her act was a bit darker and more mysterious that the others which are usually comical. A male performer, Fifi Latio, performed as a pirate. A bright red wig and eye patch completed his look. Come show day he will be covered in glitter. I discovered a new word at the rehearsal. "Derp" seems to refer to an awkward charm that comes when things don't work out as expected.

Rosita Sparkles nailed the funniest burlesque of the evening. She performed as a crazed cyber girlfriend who will stalk her man and never let him go. She had a maniacal wide eyed gaze that made her every move hilarious. She had an audience member help her remove a glove and then she clutched the glove refusing to let it go. She didn't just disrobe, she literally ripped off her clothes in a crazed passion. Ruby Darling, Skill Focus' fearless leader had bright blue hair. She took notes about every performance so that they could be tweaked and improved before the show. Every performer develops their own routine and the results are often inspired. Ruby's routine was set in the wild west and she had a flourish of skirts worthy of the Moulin Rouge or a raw unbridled western stage show.

Post rehearsal notes included how to step out of a skirt which involves lowering the skirt all the way to the floor while showcasing plenty of leg and keeping the butt elevated. There was one technical difficulty when Rosita couldn't undo her corset. Ruby demonstrated how these clasps can become tangled and locked. Any guy might identify with the dilemma of trying to unclasp a bra and discovering that is refuses to give way. There is a technique of pushing away in a scooping motion that will free the clasp every time. There were many more acts that I described, so expect to be surprised.

Mark your calenders! Skill Focus Presents: Computer Crash Course will be performed on July 19th at The Venue, 511 Virginia Drive, Orlando FL at 10pm. 18+ ONLY! The Venue has a full bar for those 21and older.
$15 VIP front row seating
$10 General admission
Tickets available in advance at
. It is going to be a wild and hilarious ride!

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, July 18, 2014

The Receptionist will Have It's Central Florida Premiere at the Shakes This Weekend

DiDonna Productions/ The Empty Spaces Theatre Co(llaboration) presents the Central Florida premier of The Receptionist by Adam Bock directed by Kevin G. Becker. The show is a dark office comedy that raises questions about narcissism, willful ignorance, and blindly following the rules.

I arrived at a rehearsal a bit early. The Mandell Theater was empty but there were a few props left over from a magic show on stage. Since Empty Spaces, was presenting the show, I started by sketching the empty stage. As the sketch progressed, I wondered if I was in the wrong place.  Finally Kevin and Becky arrived. Office props were moved on stage. The office table was missing a leg and Kevin used carpenter's glue to get it back in place. Comically it popped off as actors rehearsed their lines. Tissues were needed for one scene but for the rehearsal, toilet paper had to be substituted. Flowers were needed to liven up the office and magician's tissue flowers had to stand in for the night.

Alea Figueroa and Rebekah Lane began going over a confrontational scene together. Martin Dart (Josh Geohagen), a charming rep from the Central Office had just left. Lorraine (Alea) ran in looking to see where he went. Beverly (Rebekah) shouted out, "He's married!" "Well, he's not happily married." Lorraine replied. This sent Beverly off on a rant about how important trust and loyalty are. She was so worked up that you knew this came from personal experience. Beverly mentioned a friend who had started dating a man she met online. She off highhandedly mentioned that he was married, like it was no big deal, just another part of the equation. It was however a mistake, getting off on the wrong foot. Lorraine retreated to the office chairs and Beverly followed, relentless. "I was just flirting." Lorraine replied her hands twitching nervously. Her eyes welled up. Then all the theater lights blacked out unexpectedly. "I'm lonely and I miss Glen." she said in the darkness. It was a powerful heart felt performance heightened by the lights blacking out as part of tech. I had to wipe my eyes when the lights came back up.

Beverly is the receptionist and she is the life blood in a busy office. Her gossip with a friend on the phone is sporadically interrupted as she forwards calls to colleagues. She deals with Lorraine's romantic troubles dating a narcissist by suggesting she read a book called, "Help, I'm Dating a Narcissist". Beverly is good natured and believes the best in everyone around her. Exactly what business is handled in the office is slowly reveled. The boss, Mr. Raymond (Kevin Sigman) discusses a mysterious interaction with a client whom he believed might have been telling the truth. It seems office personnel get information and confessions by any means possible.

The appearance of Martin Dart from the Central Office upsets the office daily routine. Lorraine flirts with him playfully but when they get close, he grabs her hands in a vice like grip. She backs away in fear. It wasn't until later, that I realized that her flirting might have been an attempt to find out why he was there. The Receptionist raises disquieting, provocative questions about the consequences of complicity with evil. On the drive back home, I kept thinking about the show. The dark under currents are subtle and linger, raising many questions.

This show will be presented as an immersive social theatrical experience taking the audience through an interactive pre-show at the Shakes bar, discussing the process behind performing and producing the show then moving into the theater to watch The Receptionist followed by a lively Question and Answer back at the bar about the hidden meanings and emotions that the show creates. Trust me you will have questions and you will love meeting the cast. This is a national trend where live theater is breaking away from the mold of being like a movie that you see and then immediately leave. By interacting with the cast , you get to experience the informal inspiring atmosphere that I love every time I sketch a rehearsal. It is great to meet the actors when they are playful, relaxed and can share their love of theater one on one.

Mark Your Calendar! 
The Receptionist by Adam Bock

Fri July 18th – Sat July 19th @ 8pm
Mandell Theater
The John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Located in Loch Haven Park across from the Museum of Art
Parking available in Loch Haven lots, or in Science Center Parking Garage off of Princeton (Next to Mennello Museum of Art)
$20.00 general / $15.00 student and senior available by reservation
Will call/cash at door
(Group rates available for groups of 10 or more)
For reservations please call 407.328.9005 – will call cash only at door

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

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday July 19, 2014
1pm to 5pm Free.  Family Days at the Maitland Museum. Maitland Art Center, 231 Packwood Avenue West, Maitland, FL. Family Days at the Museum is held on the 3rd Saturday of every month, and each program is held in a different location within the A&H Museums. Join us for this afternoon of family fun!

7pm to 10pm Free but bring a dish. Maya Sloan Potluck. 1418 Clouser Avenue, College Park, Orlando, FL. Meet residert author Maya Sloan at the Kerouac House.

8pm Friday 7/18 and Saturday 7/19  $20.00 general / $15.00 student and senior available by reservation.  The Receptionist by Adam Bock. Two shows only. John & Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
812 E Rollins St, Orlando, Fl. Directed by Kevin G. Becker. Featuring Alea Figueroa, Josh Geoghagan, Rebekah Lane and Kevin Sigman. DiDonna Productions/The Empty Spaces Theatre Co(llaboration) presents the Central Florida premier of Adam Bock’s The Receptionist, directed by Kevin G. Becker, a dark office comedy that raises questions about narcissism, willful ignorance, and blindly following the rules.

Sunday July 20, 2014
Noon to 5pm Free. Sunday's with Smiling Dan. The Falcon Bar & Gallery, 819 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL. Weekly gathering of friends to listen to music and relax with a drink.

3pm to 6pm $10 The 6th Annual Southern Fried Sunday Benefit for The Mustard Seed! Wills Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Fl. 20 + Bands on Multiple Indoor and Outdoor Stages Along Mills Ave., Food Trucks, Vendors, Pin-Up Girls and Summer Fun All to Raise Funds for a Great Local Charity!
BANDS: Paddington Ambush, The Actomatics, Rickey Dickens and The Revival, Bellows, Buster Keaton, Good Graeff , Lauren Carder & The Multiple Me, The Chris Charles Quartet, Room Full of Strangers, adam and the plastic, Prison Wine, The Strange Trip, Uncle Sam’s Pride, Pickens Ivey, Jaggermouth (North Carolina), Jackson Rodgers & Forest Rodgers, JCarly + the Teeth and more!
Preferred Parking for Motorcycles & Vintage Cars will be available.

6pm to 8pm Free. Shut Your Face! Poetry Slam by Curtis Meyer! La Casa De La Paellas 10414 E Colonial Dr Orl FL. The only current ongoing slam in Orlando officially certified by Poetry Slam Incorporated, IE. Send a team to Nats as well as poets to The Individual World Poetry Slam & Women of The World Poetry Slam! $50 to the winner! If you’ve never seen or been in a slam before, it’s definitely worth checking out!

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, July 17, 2014

The Buddy Holly Story in Winter Haven

Magically, Buddy Holly seems to return to the stage in Winter Haven Florida every year. He has performed live in 2012 and 2013. This year Andy Matchett is playing Buddy. I've seen him perform as Buddy Holly before and it seems a roll he was destined to perform. The drive down to Winter Haven turned out to be more of an adventure than I had bargained for. My GPS showed multiple accidents on I-4 so I took back roads all the way south through Kissimmee. It poured on the whole trip south. lightning flashed brilliantly etching shadowed scars in my retinas. It seemed like everyone knew this back route because the traffic on the country road slowed to a crawl. A trip that the GPS predicted would be an hour became two and a half hours.

I was actually quite impressed by Theatre Winter Haven (210 Cypress Gardens Blvd, Winter Haven, Fl) when I arrived. Although the facade was a sterile cinder block wall, the interior was spacious and there was room in the wings for some impressive set changes. I also liked that an art gallery was part of the theater complex. Art on display in the lobby showed that there were some skilled draftsmen in the town.

The show is Co-Produced by Dr. and Mrs. Robert Cassell and Marilyn Riggs. Over 50 years ago, the man who changed the face of popular music tragically died in a plane crash at age 22. The Buddy Holly Story tells the story of the three years in which he became the world's top recording artist with a show that features over 20 of Buddy Holly's greatest hits including 'Peggy Sue', 'That'll Be The Day', 'Oh Boy',‘Everyday’, 'Not Fade Away', 'Rave On' and 'Raining In My Heart'.

Buddy Holly was someone who passionately knew what he wanted in his music and life. He met Maria Elena (Hannah Corlew) because she worked as a secretary at his recording label. From the moment he met her, he knew he would marry her. Five days later, he did. He truly lived like every day might be his last. Rehearsals and recording sessions were at times playful and exhausting as he strived for the perfect sound. His band, The Crickets (Marcus Brixa, Kemp Brinson and Josh McNair) grew disgruntled with the endless retakes.

The end of the show featured a high energy concert with Buddy, Richie Valens (Alex La Torre) who had some amazing hip moves, and The Big Bopper (Tom Mesrobian).  The entire ensemble was onstage for this high energy concert. It was a winter concert and there was a blizzard outside. After the concert these three performers would board a plane which was destined to crash. The music came to an abrupt end and a lone microphone stood in a spotlight. After the show, the director had notes for the cast. He said, "We have a good show, it was a good rehearsal, some things need to be gelled, touched and massaged."

Driving home, the music was still echoing in my head. I drove past ancient MacDonald's arches and then  neon restaurant signs that hearkened back to the 50s. There was nothing to remind me of the present. I was driving through the twilight year of 1959. Then the black country road erased all visual clues. The road curved and grass blurred past my windows in the headlight's gleam. I had to trust that I could navigate each unknown curve at 50 miles per hour. It would be so easy to slip of this thin thread into the void.

The Buddy Holly Story runs from July 18 through August 3rd. Tickets: $24 Adults, $21 Students

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, July 16, 2014

Davis Gaines Performed an Intimate Cabaret at the Abbey

On June 1st, Terry and I went to Double Standards, an intimate Cabaret by Davis Gaines at The Abbey (100 S. Eola Drive Orlando, FL).  Davis is best known for being the longest running phantom for Phantom of the Opera in LA. He often returns to perform in Orlando. Double Standards, featured unique and compelling song pairings, bringing fresh and unexpected takes on familiar standards from The Great American Songbook.

It was a relaxing evening of music with the audience sitting at round tables sipping wine. The pianist, Carol Anderson was amazing, Mark Neuenswander was on bass and Keith Wilson was on Drums. There were standard show tunes and old classics like Over the Rainbow. I respect Davis' singing voice but often felt like some expressiveness was missing in his face, like LA had ironed away some of his soul. Regardless, he is a consummate performer, although he was quite fazed by the sound system being a bit off. He was unable to hear himself sing on stage. I've sketched him a number of times over the years, so you could say I'm a consistent fan.

Terry and I went out for Mexican food afterwards at Mucho Tequila And Tacos (101 South Eola Drive Orlando, FL). There was a huge confusing selection of margaritas. It seems Mexican restaurants are learning from Starbucks where you need to be an expert to get a drink. My fist choice turned out to be a bathtub sized drink, so I had to downsize. Terry wasn't pleased with her food, but my Chimichanga was just fine.

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, July 15, 2014

July 4th Fireworks at Lake Eola Park

July 4th was my first day back from a vacation in the Canadian Rockies. It turns out that they celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, the same week as our Independence Day. Terry and I went to watch fireworks in the small mountain town of Jasper Alberta. The whole town must have shown up to see the fireworks display on the soccer field of the local high school. Everyone found a spot on a steep grassy hill. Some people wore the Canada flag as a cape and there were plenty of Canada flag temporary tattoos. At the base of the hill next to the baseball diamond was a fenced in beer garden. People got anxious as it got closer to the start time which was very late. The sun sets much later way up north in the cool mountains.

It was still dusk when the first burst went off and echoed off the mountains. Streaming rockets that looked like comets reached up to the night sky.  There were fireworks I had never seen before like twirling disks and showering curtains of light. I watched the crowd whose faces became illuminated by the bright explosions. Huge bursts went off only a few feet above the ground. A mortar rotated, firing like a machine gun in quick succession. Smoldering embers burned out in the grass. The crowd was constantly muttering oooh and aaah in appreciation. There was a magnificent finale with bursts layered on top of each other in a thunderous roar. People applauded and were surprised by a second even bigger finale. Then there was the crush of the crowd as everyone tried to leave. I took Terry's hand so we wouldn't be separated. One family had watched the fireworks from a boat that sat on a trailer next to the park. "Only in Jasper" one local high school student remarked.

Terry wasn't up to going to Lake Eola to see Orlando's fireworks. She needed some down time after all our traveling. I ventured out on my own to sketch. People had staked out their viewing spots hours before the fireworks were to start. The family seated in front of me must have been tourists from Eastern Europe. They came prepared with a full picnic and plenty of reading material. All around the lake, the crowds grew thick. The Orlando Concert Band played John Phillips Sousa tunes in the Band Shell. When my sketch was covered with red white and blue, I decided to leave. You can watch fireworks every day of the week in Orlando if you drive towards the theme parks at dusk. A woman was grateful to take my prime viewing real estate. As I walked away from the lake, crowds flowed toward the lake. Robinson was shut down. A mom explained to her daughter, "Look, its a walking and biking street!" I continued upstream like a salmon.

On the drive home, I heard a noise that sounded like something was hitting the inside of my wheel well. I turned off my radio to listen. I finally realized it was the sound of fireworks. In every direction, huge plumes of sparkling spheres exploded. Everywhere I looked the sky was on fire. In my subdivision neighbors competed with each other for the biggest blast. It was a beautiful sight. Back at home I watched Dead White and Blue with my very content Cockatoo cuddling in my lap. I got to experience Independence Day in two different countries this year. I have much to be grateful for.

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, July 14, 2014

CG Industry Leaders Offer Insights to Students at Full Sail Live

0n April 15th, 3D Arts Advisory Board Panel spoke to students at Full Sail Live. My entire class went to the event. The speakers were: Shane Cook from ILM who was working on Transformers which is now being released in theaters, Russel Barton who works at EA Tiberon for the Madden series of video games, Nate Home, Ryan Boyle who is working on Microsoft's Video wall, Keith Guerette who works at Naughty Dog and is a lead effects artist, and Ryan Watson from Ubisoft. The leading consensus among the panel was that getting into the industry takes lots of perseverance and constant work. They each had setbacks and struggles. With CG work it isn't uncommon to loose a days work when a computer freezes up. They have to shrug off the loss and feel that the next pass would be better than the first.

I was surprised and pleased to hear that they all cherish traditional drawing as a way to quickly relate ideas. This is something I stress often with my students but too often the use the computer as a crutch to execute unclear ideas. I met a student on a flight back to Orlando from Virginia. She was ecstatic that one  of the panelists told her that she was hire-able. Those encouraging words will go a long way towards lighting a fire that needs to burn bright for the duration of any career. I found it visually funny that the circular patters projected behind the panelists made it look like they each had a black halo.

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, July 13, 2014

Earth Day Celebration at Lake Eola

April 19th was Earth Day and Orlandoans celebrated at Lake Eola Park. That day was also the 43rd World Wide Sketch Crawl, so I organized the Orlando Crawl to happen at the Earth Day Celebration. There were artist and vendor tents set up all through the park. I suggested that any artists could meet in the art vendor area, so that is where I set up to sketch. I sat right at the edge of a huge patch of Doug Rhodehamel's paper bag mushrooms. The mushrooms are part of his Spore Project which encourages people to be creative with the simplest of materials, a paper bag, stick and a rubber band.

Jon Glassman Gardner was set up in a tent nearby and he explained the mushrooms to people who were curious. Jon had dozens of colored glass magnets that had colorful patterns that resemble topographic maps. He discovered the pattern one day while pressing pigments between two sheets of glass. I'm the proud owner of several of these magnets that hold up sketches in the studio. He was also selling lanterns that featured his unique glass work. Between costumers, he was working on a spray can chandelier. He cut the cans open in a spiral pattern which made them look a bit like Man O War jellyfish. I believe he plans to group these together with lights to create the chandelier.

My plan to have artists meet at this event was flawed. The event was so large and crowded that it became impossible to find any other artists. One art student of Kathy Blackmore's introduced himself and I suggested he sketch something in the area. I should have given him my twitter handle or phone number so I could find him again in the crowd.  I assumed no one else showed up, but weeks later I was pleased to see that Plinio Pinto and Matthew Tardiff also sketched the Earth Day festivities that day. Though each artist was sketching on their own, they both found plenty of interesting subject matter to sketch. The next Sketch Crawl is July 12th. I need to get organized and learn how to bring artists together.

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, July 12, 2014

Claire and the Potatos Perform at the Earth Day Festival

The Earth Day Festival was held at Lake Eola on April 19th. This was the same day as the World Wide SketchCrawl, so I invited artists to come to Lake Eola for a sketch marathon. The festival was so crowded that I never met any other artists. I did one sketch in the artist vendor's area which was slated as the meeting place. When that sketch was done, I walked around the festival looking for other artists and scouting out the next sketch opportunity. Of course, when I heard music, I was gravitated towards it.

Claire and the Potatoes performed under a tent right on the eastern shore of Lake Eola. Last year, Claire was bitten by one of Lake Eola's swans, so she kept an eye out as she sang. I sat on a low brick wall and sketched. Most of the audience stood on the walkway. All of the music was original dealing with misunderstood youth and romance. The group is a sort of pop hipster comfort band, with a soothing retro sound with dark undertones. The band members are Leslie Rising, Guy Larmay, Marc Sirdoreus and Jim Myers.Someone shot a photo of me working on the sketch, so this sketch circulated a bit on Facebook. Because of that, I thought I might have posted this sketch before. I've decided to sign each sketch when it goes online to help avoid confusion in the future. With this sketch done, I decided to call it a day and head home. I was discouraged that I didn't meet any other artists but it turned out they were out there enjoying their day of sketching.

Mark Your Calendar! Tonight, July 12 between 8pm and 1am, Claire and The Potatoes will unleash their new album, "Have An Okay Time With Claire and The Potatoes!", and they're doing it at The Geek Easy (114 S. Semoran Blvd)! It's the first chance to get the new album (three days early, too), and the first five people to purchase one will also receive one of the few remaining copies of their first EP gratis! Opening the show will be Bucket of Nails (unpredictable spazz-rock from Orlando) and then Figments (rock and roll from Tampa) . There is no cover, so get out and soak up some tunes.

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, July 11, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday July 12, 2014
1pm to 3pm Free.  Digital Arts Salon: Nathan Selikoff. Coral Springs Museum of Art Inc. 2855 Coral Springs Dr, Coral Springs, Fl.  Nathan Selikoff’s award-winning artwork has been exhibited and performed in galleries and venues throughout the United States and around the world, including Art Basel in Switzerland; Bridges Math Art Conferences in Portugal, Hungary, Canada and the Netherlands; the Maitland Art Center in Florida; AXIOM Gallery in Boston; the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art; the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in California; SIGGRAPH Art Galleries in various US cities, and the Orlando Mini Maker Faire. Recently, Selikoff was one of a small group of developers to launch apps for the new Leap Motion Controller, a futuristic 3D motion control technology for computing. His experimental art app, Beautiful Chaos, allows users to explore the curves and ripples of mathematical equations brought to life in vivid color. In 2012 and early 2013, Selikoff participated in The Corridor Project, The Creative City Project, and the Cardboard Art Festival in Orlando, installing site-specific sculptures made from recycled cardboard inspired by some of his digital works. Selikoff was born in Atlanta in 1980. He received a BFA in Computer Animation and a minor in Computer Science from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where he resides with his wife, Amy. He is also the founder of Processing Orlando, a bi-monthly meetup for artists interested in using technology, and provides freelance graphics programming and technical direction services through his company, Digital Awakening Studios. More on Nathan at
RSVP to attend a Digital Art Salon by calling (954) 340-5000 or email (space is limited). For more information please visit

7pm to 11pm Free. Art Hat Party. Wandering Eye Gallery 1600 E. 8th Ave. Suite E109 Ebor City. Artists decorate hats for a coveted prize.

8pm to 1am  Free. Claire and The Potatoes unleash their new album, "Have An Okay Time With Claire and The Potatoes!". The Geek Easy 114 S. Semoran Blvd Suite #6, Winter Park, Fl. It's the first chance to get the new album (three days early, too), and the first five people to purchase one will also receive one of the few remaining copies of their first EP gratis! Opening the show will be Bucket of Nails (unpredictable spazz-rock from Orlando) and then Figments (rock and roll from Tampa) .

Sunday July 13, 2014
10am to 6pm Free. Fashion Square Art Fair. Orlando Fashion Square 3201 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, Fl. 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. $5 Film Slam. Enzian Theater, South Orlando Avenue, 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.

5pm to 9pm Free. Blues and Buffet Jam. The Alley, 114 S Park Ave, Sanford, FL. 407 328-4848.

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, July 10, 2014

The Lady's of Eola Heights take the Abby by Storm.

I went to a dress rehearsal for The Ladies of Eola Heights at The Abbey. I contacted Beth Marshall who plays the part of Pearl. This is the first time in a long time that she wasn't producing or directing a show. She felt a bit at ease just being an actor rather than worrying about the overall production. Beth introduced me to the director Kenny Howard who thankfully knew of my work and was enthusiastic to have me sketch. He warned me that none of the actresses would be wearing make up. The set wasn't finished yet as well, still needing a railing near the steps and a blue wall behind the center archway.

This is an original play written by Michael Wanzie. The estranged Locksdale sister reunited at their family home, in the historical Eola Heights neighborhood of Orlando, Florida, to plan their daddy’s funeral. It seems fiery-tongued Ruby (Blue Starr) dressed in a hot red zebra stripe dress, has taken to loose living and hard drinking, while older sister Opal (Peg O'Keef) has become a born again Christian. Matriarch Pearl (Beth Marshall) has gained weight and  had a Home Shopping Club addiction. In the opening scene Beth drove onto the set with one of those motorized scooters with an oxygen tank. It was a hilarious moment as she tried to parallel park it next to the dining table while Ruby waited.

As the sisters interacted for the first time in years, their dark past surfaced and it became clear that they are all dealing with their horrible past in their own ways. Each scene is punctuated by an appearance of their brother (Miss Sammy) who danced down stairs in gorgeous gowns to light hearted show tunes. His way of coping was to live in a beautiful fantasy world as a woman. Although the sisters are all polar opposites, they come together to bury their past.

The show is as funny as it is touching, a comedy with serious themes that take the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. I was laughing out loud throughout the show and yet identified with themes that affect many estranged families. The abuse that surfaced at the heart of the show happens all too often in Central Florida.  I had a friend who couldn't cope with that past. Don't miss this locally grown gem.

The show runs July 10- July 28 at the Abbey (100 S. Eola Drive Orlando, FL) tickets are $30 to $45.

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, July 9, 2014

Proposed Mural for the Ivanhoe Village Offices

Scottie Campbell the Executive Director of the Ivanhoe Village District asked me to consider doing a mural on the facade of the Fringe and Ivanhoe Village offices. The building was painted black which makes the offices a furnace in the summer. I created this composite sketch to suggest an overview of downtown on the facade. There wasn't a working budget for the project, so George Fringe Wallace created a Power2Give fundraising page to raise the $5000 for the mural's creation.

I like the idea that anyone in the community can contribute a small amount to make this idea a reality. As of this writing 2% of the needed funds have been raised. In 80 or so days I find out if this project will become a reality. Donor benefits include...
$1-99, a personal thank you on the Orlando Fringe and Ivanhoe Village Facebook pages.
$100-249, a digital photograph of the mural once it is completed (plus the above benefits)
$250-499, an invitation to the public unveiling of the mural, including a meet and greet with Fringe  and Ivanhoe Village Executives and the artist himself, Thomas Thorspecken. (plus the above benefits)
$500 or more, a plaque at the site of the mural with your name on it as a donor (plus the above benefits)

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, July 8, 2014

The Local Fringe Pieview offered Hilarity and Drama

On April 14th local production companies had two minutes to showcase their Fringe shows at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's Margeson Theater (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL). I go each year to get a feeling for which shows I can not miss. George Fringe Wallace and Michael Marinaccio acted as the MCs while Brandon Roberts acted as the Shepard's hook to stop any acts that went over two minutes. Brandon was dressed in a giant fluffy diaper and had angel's wings and a Cupid's bow. I was hoping each act would run a bit long just to see what he would do next. He even tried to become part of the act when Enui, a circus arts acrobatic troupe took center stage. He stood tentatively on a teeter board but ran off when the acrobats bounded in.

The program had thumbs up and thumbs down symbols for easy future reference.  Acts I gave a thumbs up to, included: The Downtowner's The Real 50 Shades of Gray (Hair). These plucky seniors aged 66 to 99 sang songs of love, lust and life with passion. A plant in the audience got up and stripped as they sang. The audience ate it up.  I liked, Camino Flamenco, The Aqua Saga and Jekyll N' Hyde: a Rap Musical. I was saddened to hear that the the lead actor in Jekyll N' Hyde, Carl D. Kirkmire just recently died at the age of 32. His performance at the Fringe preview was stellar and a real talent has left the stage.

Jeff Ferree introduced his puppet show, The Girl Who Fell Up the Chimney" by riding a tiny clown sized bicycle around the stage and shooting silly string at the audience. Last year he juggled spaghetti. His previews are always an inspired mess. I tried to sketch the puppet show at the Fringe. It was in a small closet which for some reason had a fire place. You had to lie on your back with your head in the fireplace to see the show. Unfortunately, the button to turn on the lights didn't work no matter how many times I hit it. I'm sure it was a great sketch opportunity lost. Squeaky Wheel productions presented a song from Seasons which was incredibly sad. This show is my pick as the show that should go all the way to Broadway.

All together, 41 shows previewed that night offering an amazing variety of possibilities. Sometimes a preview can be alluring but that hint is lost in the final hour long production. For instance I loved the tender tall of love found in a Vietnamese karaoke bar, but Reincarnation Soup, ended up being confusing to follow since the actor jumped between so many different personalities in the final production. I felt shanghaied. Then other times it is nice to go to a show at the Fringe with no preconceptions and be pleasantly surprised. That is what the Fringe is all about, discovering something new and unexpected at every turn.

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, July 7, 2014

Teaching 2D Traditional Animation at Otronicon

Sam Ewing who was the lead clean up artist for Stitch was asked to teach an animation class at Otronicon in the Orlando Science Center (777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL). I assisted Sam with one of these sessions. It is fun to see how enthusiastic young kids are about animation. Full Sail sponsored the classes offering Mac computers on which Sam showed some scenes of Stitch in action. Although Otronicon is a high tech conference, we taught low tech animation, giving the enthusiastic kids pencils and paper to put their ideas down. We had them storyboard very simple story ideas and then gave them flip books to do drawing after drawing to create the illusion of motion. Since these kids haven't been told that they aren't artists, anything is possible.

I teach traditional animation at Full Sail and an apathetic student wanted to know why he had to learn traditional animation techniques. At a Fringe pre-show warm up an actor asked the audience what was their one true passion in life. A wife's hand went up and she said "My husband." The actor joked that the husband's hand didn't dart up as fast since it was clutching a beer.  Another man asked about his one passion, had no idea. He didn't have any passions. The audience laughed but it was also quite sad. I refuse to believe that anyone could go through life without a desire to express something, anything.  That is why we learn to write, to draw to photograph or sing.  How could a student spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and not have that basic passion? So many seem to want to coast through college with minimal effort.  I still believe one spark can ignite any fire. It is amazing to see the possibilities when a mind is set free.

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, July 6, 2014

Digital Captives at The Drunken Monkey

I often go to The Drunken Monkey (444 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL) after work if I need to kill some time before heading out to an evening event. I enjoy the coffee, hot paninis and the local art on the walls. Patrons are almost always sitting alone staring at their laptops. While they are captives to their computers, I am captive to my sketch pad. My sketching must be more socially acceptable today because people are often busy working while in a crowd. Since everyone around me is so involved looking at computer screens, they never suspect that they are being sketched. I used to use a baseball cap to hide my gaze from suspicious models but now I can stare with immunity. At times I feel I should have been born at the turn of the century but it is easy to blend in while sketching today. Perhaps I have been born at the right time.

I no longer go to Drunken Monkey since they used one of my sketches without consulting me on their Internet welcome page. I usually support local businesses but I can't support theft.

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