Monday, July 31, 2017

In the Artist's Studio fundraiser at Mad Cow Theater.

Mad Cow Theater's In the Artist's Studio fundraiser featured Merline Labissière, Lifetime’s “Project Runway” season 14 contestant as the guest artist for the Downtown Arts District's visiting artist program. The program was moderated by television and radio personality, Marc McEwen, who is best known for his role on CBS This Morning and as an anchor for WKMG-TV, Local 6 News.

A VIP meet-and-greet began at 6 pm. Labissière, a Miami-based designer, uses architecturally inspired design to create distinctive apparel for professional women. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Labissière is a frequent lecturer and advocate for teaching fashion design to inner-city youth. She sat next to me as I sketched the stage prior to her being interviewed. Being an artist herself she loved what I do.

Merline's family came from Haiti in a very small makeshift boat. She remembers the very real thought that were the boat to sink, a decision would have to be made about who goes overboard. Her mom is illiterate and she always wanted a better life for her daughter. Merline was shy when she arrived, partly because she was just learning to speak English.

At Savannah College of Art and Design, she studied architecture. She took some art classes and remembers finding out that the opposite of orange is blue, "Say what?" Architecture is the mother of all art, and it offers the foundation on which other art forms are built, but she decided that fashion was her calling. To create her garments, she needed to focus on sketching. At first, her mom was less than thrilled with her desire to go into fashion.

She found out about auditions for Project Runway, a reality TV show about fashion, in Miami. She made it through the first audition, but on the callback, she needed to work on her craft. She needed a week to sulk. After her private pity party, she decided that she couldn't wait for opportunity and instead she would create her own fashion collection. It seems that anytime something amazing happens in her life, it comes after everything has fallen apart. At her first fashion runway show she had butterflies to the third power, she totally understands why celebrities do drugs. Her fashion designs are edgy using architectural straight lines to break up forms. Dresses on display resembled jigsaw puzzles with intricate cut out designs.

At another audition for Project Runway, she was cast on the show. She pointed out that all the contestants were on the show because they were broke. Although not the final winner, the show made her a celebrity and her work seen by millions. Everyone wants people to see their work and say, "I get you." The trouble with being an artist is that so much of your identity is wrapped up in what you create. If someone doesn't like it, that can be devastating. She turned to Christ and her identity is held strong in her faith. When Merline's mom saw her daughter's success, she came around and fully supported her career choice.

Merline now teaches middle school and high school kids to get out of the studio for inspiration. She has shifted her focus to enterprise, business plans, and branding. Someone showed her how to crochet and she finds that a relaxing hobby. She is now planning to return to architecture. Life has different seasons and there is always room to grow. She specifically schedules one day off a week to rejuvenate and after hearing her speak , I decided to do the same. She loves going on walks, writing, drawing, going to museums, and galleries. She specifically schedules time for fun and, darn it, that is a great idea as well. God, there isn't enough time in each day to do everything if you stay curious and inspired.

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 29, 2017

Inspiration Mural stairwell.

Michael Pilato from Philadelphia and Yuri Karabash from the Ukraine used the second floor studio space above Anthony's Pizza as a place to paint the first mural devoted to the 49 victims of the Pulse tragedy. Chimene Pindar Hurst arranged for home school students to paint a mural up the narrow staircase leading to the studio. Susan Gromala Crary, an artist who has done murals on Disney property, volunteered to get the kids started on the project.

She had each student do small thumbnail sketches of ideas they wanted included in the mural. Since social media like twitter and Facebook are so important to the kids, she found that the power of words had to be incorporated. Ultimately large flowers were painted with 49 heart shaped pedals. A rainbow exploded it's bright colors up the steps. Then words were incorporated like inspire, and positive.

Any creative endeavor has its setbacks and happy accidents. While painting a large section of the rainbow, a cup of bright yellow paint spilled on the steps. Rather than getting upset about the spill, Susan encouraged the kids to incorporate the yellow into the overall design and concept. Each student dipped their hand in the puddle and hand prints were placed on each step. A videographer recorded the afternoon of creative working and singing. Each painter had their own technique which Susan encouraged. One girl used tiny strokes with a tiny brush to fill in sections of the mural. She persisted and completed the work. In the end that is what matters most, something new and unexpected was created.

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 28, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for July 29th and 30th.

Saturday July 29, 2017 
9 AM to 3 PM - $95  Urban Sketching Class. Thomas Thorspecken (Thor) of Analog Artist Digital World is the instructor. Crealde School of Art, 600 St. Andrews Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32792. Main Campus Room: 1A. One day class.  Learn the essentials of sketching by leaving the studio to sketch in the community. Classroom session will focus on sketching a clothed model and work toward capturing the entire setting. Use a sketchbook the way a photojournalist uses a camera. The goal is to produce finished sketches using pen and ink, then apply watercolor—all within a two-hour period.
Members $75 • Non-members $95
Thomas Thorspecken studied animation and illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and worked for ten years in NYC as a freelance illustrator and at Florida Disney Feature Animation for ten years. In 2009, he made a news year’s resolution to do one sketch a day and share it with a worldwide online community of Urban Sketchers through his blog Analog Artists Digital World.

Noon to 3PM - Free. National Dance Day Free Dance Classes. Marshall Ellis Dance School, 1300 La Quinta Drive, Orlando, Florida 32809.
Ballet Class 12:30 pm-1:30 pm
Contemporary Class 2:00 pm-3:00 pm
National Dance Dance Performance 4:00 pm-5:00 pm

6 PM to 8 PM - Free. Talk, Themes of Racial Injustice and Student/Youth Rights. Cornell Fine Arts Museum, 1000 Holt Avenue-2765, Winter Park, FL 32789. Chardo Richardson, President, Central Florida Chapter of the ACLU.

Sunday July 30, 2017
10 AM to Noon - Free. Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources.

Noon to 1 PM - Free. Yoga. Lake Eola near red gazebo. Bring your own mat.

Noon to 3 PM - Free Will Donation. Music at the Casa. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Anthology Quartet.

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 27, 2017

Rasha Mubarak discusses her life after Pulse.

On a sketch excursion to The GLBT Center, I watched Rasha Mubarack, Orlando's regional coordinator for the Council for American /Islamic Relations, as she was interviewed on camera. The Center was holding an event in which a large group of people gathered to offer love and support for Manchester via a video message.

She explained in an oral history at the Orange County Regional History Center, that she was exposed to injustice as a child. Her uncle was a successful businessman who lived in Isleworth Florida. His home was invaded, probably because he was Islamic. Islamaphobia had become mainstream in America. When exposed to one injustice, you become aware of others. A sheik was at the site where hospitalized names were read from a list. If the name of your loved one wasn't on the list, then it was a worst case scenario. Parents and loved ones were in despair. Some were banging their heads on the walls. This was a hard scene to re-live.

At the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts vigil, Rasha was one of the people on hand to read the names of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Back stage, she was nervous about the idea of being a Muslim reading the names. Backstage, there was pain and comfort. Reading the names was shattering. Each name had the age next to it. Each of these people have stories. The Methodist Church across the street rang the bell for every name on the list. That moment seemed to last an eternity. Everyone assembled comforted each other. There is mercy in adversity. We are all in this together.

Right after the Pulse Nightclub massacre, Rasha felt personally affected. She went to her mosque as usual and realized that no one else knew what was going on. When she got home, she was hyperventilating and felt the full weight of the tragedy. She was soon called upon to do an interview outside Pulse. It all seemed unreal. How could someone really kill 49 people? This was clearly not a person of god, any god. That first week after Pulse, she was asked many times, "How are you?" Her stock response was, "I'm OK." One man told her something that stuck with her, "God puts you where he wants you." When he told her that, everything else seemed OK. She just needed to do the right thing, be on the right side, and keep going.

There was a backlash after Pulse, but it could have been a lot worse. Islamaphobia has increased 500% in Central Florida in the past year. What side of history do you want to be on? The Council for American /Islamic Relations is fighting for civil liberties for all Americans. At a Democratic partisan event, Rasha was pulled aside for appearing "suspicious." She fights for marginalized people and found herself marginalized.

Orlando is a place where people come to get away. On June 12, a criminal tried to dismantle that. He forever changed the lives of 49 families. How do we react when our world is disturbed? Our hearts fall in and out of love with everything. Out hearts have memory. We need to remember the beauty that came out of it all. We need to understand the diversity and stand for civil liberties for everyone.

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 26, 2017

Passion PR Five-Year Anniversary Bash!

I went with Pam Schwartz to Gilt Nightclub (740 Bennett Rd, Orlando, Florida 32803) for the Passion PR Five Year Anniversary Bash. Ilene Lieber who runs Passion PR has always been great about helping me promote events.

The evening promised to be an Explosion of Live Entertainment All Night. There were complimentary cocktails and light bites from 7 pm to 8 pm, photo opportunities, swag bags, DJ music and more. Celebrity look alikes were everywhere. Mariah Carey got on stage and did an admirable lip sync performance. Austin Powers worked his smarmy British charm on all the ladies.

I decided to sketch the poker table. Pam kept winning and placed some huge bets that brought back amazing returns. I took her place when she went to the bathroom and kept loosing. The guy next to Pam had a few too many drinks and was boisterous and a bit obnoxious each time he won a hand. Michelle Jones who founded the Violectric String band was also on a winning streak. There really wasn't any payout for winning (other than Mardi Gras beads and candy), so there was no harm in taking chances. When it was time to go, Pam tried to bet all her chips and loose but she kept winning, stacking up a mountain of chips. All the money earned at the event went towards supporting Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wallaby Ranch.

Wallaby Ranch (1805 Deen Still Rd, Davenport, FL 33897) is the first full-time Aerotow Hang Gliding Flight Park in the World. Open seven days a week since 1991. Flying in a hang glider at Wallaby Ranch is exhilarating, but much of the thrill comes from the anticipation and camaraderie even before the wings take to the sky. Air currents are best in the morning, so we were encouraged to get up at the break of dawn. Breakfast and coffee were available at the barn and everyone sat at the picnic tables chatting until the currents were just right. Malcom Jones, who founded Wallaby Ranch, has flown more tandem flights than anyone else in the world. He knows how to read the current and is known for never taking any unnecessary chances.

My flight took off without a hitch, but by the time we got back to the ground, Malcom had decided that the winds had changed making it unsafe for other tandem flights to take off. I got to experience the quiet thrill of soaring and seeing a rainbow encircling the shadow of my wings in the clouds. I was at the ranch to celebrate Pam Schwartz's birthday and unfortunately, she was grounded. She did get to take flight the next day and was equally impressed with the experience.

Most of the fun at the ranch happens on the ground, meeting new people who share a passion for flight. There is a pool that became mission central for much of the afternoon as people relaxed and soaked to stay cool. Pam and I took to the pool almost immediately upon arrival to watch the sunset. Once the sun went down, horse flies and dragon flies buzzed my ears causing me to flail and destroy the peace. In the evening, everyone gathered in the barn for dinner, games and music. We played a rather risque word game that was fun to play with strangers. One player would read a card that set up a situation and then each player had to put in their own card that they felt was the most funny or inappropriate way to finish the thought. You could tell if your card had worked if everyone else laughed at the result. When my card was read each time, I swear you could hear crickets chirping. I didn't win.

Guitar and harmonica music set the tone for the rest of the evening and everyone sang along. The feeling of community being among people who fly is intoxicating and I can understand how learning to fly solo can become an obsession. 20 hours of tandem flights are needed before a pilot can fly solo. I heard that it is possible to stay in the air for hours if the winds are just right. My flight was video recorded from start to finish with a Go Pro camera mounted on the wing. It is amazing to relive the experience from the comfort of a couch.

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 23, 2017

Hairspray at the Dr. Phillis Center for the Performing Arts.

Hairspray is being presented by Encore! Cast Performing Arts at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801) on July 22 and 23rd.  I went to a cue to cue rehearsal in which the cast went over certain numbers to block choreography and check lighting. Singers didn't perform "all out" so this was just a chance to see certain scenes in the broadest sense. Actors were relaxed and joked with each other during the run through. Judging from how much fun they had working with each other, I can say that this is likely to be a very fun show to watch. Two giant hair spray cans flanked the sides of the stage and are rigged to spray out puffs of stage smoke. I want to see the final show just to find out how they are incorporated. The opening number, "Good Morning Baltimore" was rehearsed with the lead singing her heart out and it was stellar. I was a little disappointed that the flasher had some clothes on under his trench coat, but maybe most of the audience will miss that from their angle.

The 1950s are out, and change is in the air! Hairspray, winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, is a family-friendly musical, piled bouffant-high with laughter, romance and deliriously tuneful songs.

It is 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has only one desire – to dance on the popular "Corny Collins Show." When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. She must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob, Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network... all without denting her 'do!

Show date: July 22-23, 2017
Show times vary
Tickets start at $20
Walt Disney Theater

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 22, 2017

An Interview with Billy Manes at Watermark.

On June 30th Pam Schwartz, Dan Bradfield and I entered the Watermark offices to conduct an oral history with editor-in-chief Billy Manes about the events following the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Billy grew up in Florida and was a bit of a club kid.  He suffered much adversity and sexual abuse in his childhood. At the time, he felt that Florida is a place without history, so you have to make your own history.  In 2005 he ran for mayor, being the first openly gay candidate to do so. He felt he was the best choice to replace the then suspended Mayor Buddy Dyer specifically because he's not a politician.

He met Alan Jordan who was very different than himself and they had a long relationship. "We were very Burt and Taylor in our relationship." said Billy. On Easter Sunday of 2012 Alan shot himself in front of Billy. Alan had HIV but didn't want to admit he was positive. Billy watched his love die in front of him. Alan's family took everything a redneck could need, despite the long relationship, even threatening to take the ring off of Billy's finger. Billy fought them in court and won back some of his possessions. He decided to become more purposeful about these issues. "Trying to save someone else saved me." said Billy. There is a documentary that was filmed entitled " Billy and Alan".

As a senior writer at the Orlando Weekly, Billy found his voice as he made jokes about Tallahassee government policy which is often, "so fucking boring". Billy Manes was hired by the Watermark in 2015. As I sketched, I found the black blinds strangely ominous. He coughed once, and Pam commiserated since she had a cough for 6 months after cleaning up dead flowers and collecting items at the Pulse Memorial sites for the One Orlando Collection.

"I only remember 5AM on June 12th." Billy said. He used to work there, when it was Dante's. He was friends with the owners and staff. It wasn't "divey" at all. It was a good place to come together. At 5 AM his husband Anthony Mauss woke up. He told Billy not to look at his phone. Billy of course looked at his phone and was immediately pulled on for an MSNBC interview. Unshaven and uncombed he spoke with Tamron Hall. As he spoke, he realized that he didn't know if his friends were alive who worked at Pulse.

This was a hate crime and Billy was annoyed at any news organization that would white-wash this fact by playing up the terrorist theories. On that first morning, a mother drove by and she asked if her son was alive. Billy said he would try and find out.

After Pulse, the whole tone, everything changed. Billy suddenly found himself in a whirlwind of interviews by over 7 networks in the days following. Watermark approached the following weeks with a three step program. They did a glossy cover, a story about the psychology behind the attack and stories about the need for gun control. In the barrage of activity, he stopped caring about himself. Watermark was at every event. Billy reflected, "It is still amazing to me. You can say 49, but imagine the moms and families having to deal with probate, the law."

Our oral history interview was just an hour long. We wanted to get together for a second interview to grapple with the intricacies of the weeks following Pulse in more depth. Shortly after this interview Billy Manes said he was "let go" from Watermark on Friday, July 14th. In a Facebook post on the following Sunday Billy shared, "I was effectively let go on Friday and it wasn't easy and it wasn't psychologically easy. I wanted to give Watermark the chance to break the news. Not sure why, but it was fair enough. Best to the future editor and please keep up...the work. I'll figure something new. I always do."

Billy died just after 4 p.m. on Friday, July 21, at the age of 45, surrounded by his husband Anthony Mauss, friends and family at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The loss is a shock to me. Billy and I were both born on May 22 and he playfully reminded me of this each year via Facebook.  Having lived through so much tragedy, Billy always injected humor into every exchange. He will be deeply missed. He helped to write Orlando's history while joking about the political forces that stifle Orlando's future.

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 21, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for July 22nd and 23rd.

Saturday July 22, 2017
10 AM to 1 PM - Free. Empowerment Event. Art of Fitness Personal Training and Yoga, 5154 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32819. Five speakers offer the tools you need to get the life you want. From miracles to mindset, exercise to meditation, join us as we bring you serious empowerment.

7 PM to 9 PM - Free. Brewery Tour. Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave, Orlando, FL.

10:30 PM to Midnight - Free. Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL.

Sunday July 23, 2017
10 AM to Noon - Free.  Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources.

10 AM to Noon - Free. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire, 7937 Daetwyler Drive, Belle Isle, FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday.

10 PM to Midnight - Free (but get a coffee!) Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. 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, July 20, 2017

Blue Spring State Park.

For my birthday, Pam Schwartz got me two fountain pens to draw with.We also decided to take the day off, and go to Blue Spring (2100 W. French Avenue Orange City, FL 32763). She has a kayak and there are also rentals, so we explored the spring and the Saint Johns River. Pam had a waterproof bag to hold any art supplies and phones. We seem to have amazing luck seeing wildlife anytime we explore around Orlando. We kayaked down a tiny tributary that is not very accessible to normal sized boats. The prows of our kayaks split the river grass until the stream once again opened up. Beautiful white flowers were just opening up on Lilly pads.

On a more open stretch, we spotted a river otter swimming back and forth across the stream. He must have been on the hunt for fish and he didn't seem to mind our presence. He swam towards us for a closer look. Large birds were building nests in the brush and I could hear the chicks as we floated by. When we paddled into Blue Spring itself, we came across a manatee that was slowly making her way out towards the open river water. The spring water is much clearer than the river water making the manatee easy to see. She approached Pam's kayak and boop-snooted her boat to say hello. Pam got some amazing photos before the manatee decided to gently swim out to the murky river.

I had brought along my snorkel and mask and we decided to hike upstream to the source of the spring. The water is a constant 73 degrees year round. The stream is surprisingly strong. It is hard to imagine that much water gushing up from a single hole in the ground. 102 million US gallons (390,000 m3) of water flow out of Blue Spring into the St. Johns River every day. At the large watering hole at Blue Springs source, we found a large rock to sit on and I got out my new fountain pen to try out. Unknown to me, the ink was not waterproof, so when I added watercolor to the sketch, the ink bleed into each color I applied. Flesh tones quickly turned black. Rather than fight the new media, I just let it be and applied very light washes. Back at the studio later, I replaced the ink with Noodler's ink, which is waterproof, and now the pen is in constant use every day.

Swimming over the Blue Spring itself is amazing. You have to kick hard to go against the stream. I dove down to a tree trunk which had fallen over the stream below the water's surface. Water pressure in my ears kept me from going down any further, but I could see scuba divers down below me exploring the depths. I much prefer exploring above the water where pen lines and washes can capture any scene in some form or another.

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 19, 2017

Quickies at the Orlando International Fringe Festival.

Quickies was a series of four short plays presented at the Orlando International Fringe Festival at Breakthrough Theater ( 421 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park). Written by Tracy Jane Smith, the opening “Sex and a Story,” was about how how Scheherazade, meant to serve as a sex slave, kept her head through cunning, despite the fact that she could be beheaded if she displeased the prince.

In “Meet the Pets,” a boy brings his girlfriend home to his apartment for the first time.On the couch, his cat, Mr. Cuddles (Ryan Roberson) clearly owns the place, acting like British royalty. His self satisfaction is hilarious and a great contrast to the the dog who bounds around the scene with unlimited joy and enthusiasm. Daisy, the golden retriever, loves the new girl while Mr. Cuddles treats her with disdain.

In "Welcome to Intercourse" two female students find themselves stranded in Amish Country when the car engine gives out. They meet two young Amish men and despite their differences, things heat up. The final show, "Buried" is about a distraught young woman who wanders the stage with a shovel. her idea of eternal love involved digging a hole.

As a fan of Tracy Jane Smith's sensual dark humor, I hope to catch a sketch of "Jim Reaper, A Play about Life Death and other Comedies."  After twenty years of marriage, recent divorcee Blanche flirts with an oddly irresistible man named Jim at a party, while insurance-adjuster Bob tries to avoid him at all costs. Knowledgeable party-goer Doris identifies Jim as THE Jim Reaper, and the fates of his respective guests are revealed in a card game. A score of dark metaphors comes to life in this fun personification of death as a reasonable, friendly guy just doing his job.

Performances at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Santos Dantin Theater (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, Florida 32803). 
July 28, 29, & 30
August 4, 5, & 6
Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets are $18 general admission, $15 for seniors 55+, students and military with ID. Tickets may be purchased online at or at the PRT box office at point of sale. Cash and credit card accepted; no checks please. For seating reservations only, please contact (407) 761-2683.

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 18, 2017

Guinness Presented True Sound Live at Rogue Pub.

An impromptu road trip to South Carolina ended at Rogue Pub (3076 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, Florida 32806). True Sound is a music project based in the greater Orlando area. Drawing upon various musical influences, they have developed a unique, polished sound. The lighting in the pub was set up on the dart boards rather than the band, so the performers were dark silhouettes against the bright wall. I did what I could with the low light setting. Hayley Rose, and Ben Wozniak performed covers and several of Ben's original songs. One original was about experiencing a German park and the song was fun and lively. Another song was about settling into routines rather than seizing each day.

Ben had just been on a whirlwind road trip with his uncle John Naughton, Pam Schwartz and myself. We went as far north as Charleston on the 4 day trip, seeking out historical sites and coffee shops all along the way. In Savannah we went to the fabulous Mrs. Wilkes restaurant which serves the food Thanksgiving style in bowls that are passed around large tables that seat multiple guests family style. There were over 20 different dishes served along with fried chicken, meat loaf, collared greens, macaroni and cheese and a wide variety of vegetables. It was definitely the highlight of the trip, but we also found other restaurants that were true gems.

The final day of the road trip was a marathon sprint to be sure Ben made it to his gig at Rogue Pub. I ordered a Hefferweissen, Pam had some sour passion fruit Schnoodlepip and John had a chocolate stout that was delicious. After the band's first set, Guinness offered beers on the house, so I nursed Guinness as I completed the sketch. We had vacationed hard and I was exhausted by the end of the evening. The beers further relaxed me. Ben's brother, Josh Wozniak, joined the group for the last set, doing percussion by banging a wooden box (a cajón) he sat on. This was a fun evening and a fun way to cap off an amazing trip.

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 17, 2017

Wedding Wire Mixer.

Pam Schwartz and I went to Highland Manor, (604 East Main Street, Apopka, FL) for a Wedding Wire Mix and Mingle. The Manor is a gorgeous little spot right at the intersection of Semoran and 441.  Huge old live oaks line the drive to the property and the Victorian mansion overlooks a quiet lake. I have been doing wedding sketches the last year, and the ad on Wedding Wire has received interest from prospective brides and grooms.

Cara Goldsborough, on the events team at wire, travels the  country to do these networking events. The Wedding Wire education guru, Allen Berg who was the main speaker, gave a sales pitch speaking about reaching the client, engaging and converting them to the sale, etc. Wedding Wire has 1.5 million social media followers, 87 million visits in 2015 and a 585% increase in mobile app downloads last year alone. The main point of wedding wire is connecting vendors with the people looking for them. There are 36,987 searches in Orlando on Wedding Wire in a month. Most couples plan to spend $14,000 and end up spending $22,000 in Orlando on their special day. Most people don't know what to ask when contacting vendors so they ask about cost, which is the least productive way to begin a new business transaction from either side.

Alan advised on a pricing structure for work and told a story of a photographer who created a pricing structure that included high end package and within a week a couple had ordered that high end package. No one had ever paid that much for his services before. That got me thinking.

The food at the mixer was average with tiny sandwiches on a stick, chicken strips on a stick and plenty of butterfly shaped crackers with cheese. If this was a wedding reception caterer, I would be less than impressed. The room I sketched filled up, got loud and boisterous for about half an hour and then we were all called away to the main power point presentation. Honestly some of the tips were quite helpful as I learn how to grow my events sketch business. What I offer is unique, and I just need to connect with the right clients.

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 16, 2017

Wekiva Paint Out.

At the end of February and the first week of March, 29 artists created plein air paintings at the Wekiva Island Paint Out. I went on the evening of a night paint out to watch the artists at work. Wekiva Island (1014 Miami Springs Dr, Longwood, FL 32779), has a a bar called the Tooting Otter. A band was setting up as I arrived inside the bar,  and I decided this was a perfect sketch opportunity. Plein air painter Barbara set up her easel between the bar stool I was sitting on and the stage. I sketched the room as she got the easel in place. Since she predominated the scene I included her in the sketch.

Barbara focused on a close up painting of the performers. A game of Jenga was stacked up on the table in front of Barbara. In Jenga, you have to remove a wooden block from the stack, without letting the entire structure fall down. The fiddling and guitar music added to the festive evening. Barbara was a bit distracted. I stopped sketching after the first set and I think she got more work done during the performer's second set.

I later learned that she was a bit uncomfortable with my being at the bar and sketching. She had the strange notion that I was copying her painting. I really didn't pay attention to her work in progress. My back was against the bar, so there was no opportunity to back away from her work in progress. We joked about the difficulty of working in a tight space and parted ways on decent terms. I later saw her finished painting in the wet gallery where it hung with all the other paintings completed at the paint out.

My favorite work in the wet gallery was by Elizabeth St. Hilaire who does collages instead of plein air paintings. Her pieces were mostly of palm trees executed with colorful strips of paper. seeing all the variety of work created on the one week was in itself exciting. Outside artists were doing nocturnes of the riverfront. One artist had Christmas lights wrapped all around his easel which acted as his working lights. That was a sketch opportunity, and perhaps Ill catch him at work next year.

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 15, 2017

The Big Chill in South East Orlando.

I was commissioned to do a sketch at a dinner party in South East Orlando. The host had a gorgeous home in a brand new development surrounded by woods and plenty of lakes. On the table were photos of his class mates. Some of the photos must have been rather funny judging by people's reactions.Years have passed since their careers have blossomed and developed. Such a reunion always reminds me of The Big Chill. Everyone makes the most of the life they have and reminisce about the innocence lost.

I set up as soon as I arrived and sketched the table as everyone mixed and mingled. It turned out that the leather chair I was sitting in was pushed aside and was intended for the host himself at the head of the table. We switched seats when everyone settled in with their plates. It pays to always have an artist's stool on hand.

A Chihuly chandelier illuminated the entry, and a painting of a warm Mediterranean scene overlooked the table. Yellow and red roses acted as center pieces. The candles were lit just before everyone sat down. One woman insisted I sketch her good side which was the opposite side of her face if she sat where she was placed at the table. Honestly, I couldn't see her anyway once everyone was seated and eating. Just the luck of the draw. There was plenty of laughter. The host had wanted me to sketch a party quite a few months ago, but I was pulled away on another assignment. For that party he invited people by Facebook, and not many people showed up. This time around he kept the dinner party small and everyone attended. The fun in being a casual artistic observer is in wondering about everyone in attendance, writing my own scenarios in my head. Everyone was pleasant and fun and I felt honored to document an important occasion.

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 14, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for July 15th and 16th.

Saturday July 15, 2017
10 AM to 4 PM - Free. Commander's Call. Museum of Military History, 5210 West Irlo Bronson Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746. This ongoing program is held on the 3rd Saturday of each month and is designed to appeal to families, military memorabilia collectors, history buffs, re-enactors and others interested in military history. In addition, persons interested in displaying, trading or selling their military items such as honor coins, swords, photographs, military buttons, scale model boats & planes, military art, uniforms or other equipment should register in advance by calling the museum. Re-enactors and veterans are welcome to come in uniform to add to the history and authenticity of the military experience. Non-military booths such as health care providers, home improvement, local attractions or other businesses are invited to be vendors for a minimal donation. 
INFO and Register: 407-507-3894 or to register your table space.

6 PM to Midnight - Free. Eva's Birthday Bash. BeBest Events by David Merritt The Alfond Inn Lounge, 300 E New England Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32789. Join us to toast and celebrate Ms Eva's Birthday!!
Appetizers + Happy Hour Drink menu pricing ALL NIGHT!
- Includes: $7 Stoli Premium Vodka & Bullett Bourbon, $7 William Hill Chard & $8 Cab, $6 Champagne Special!
Plus Dance to the sexiest vibes, both current and past, with DJ Joe Magic, spinnin' up awesome fun on the dance floor 9pm - close!
Complimentary Valet!   No Cover Charge or ticket required.
* Appetizers available to purchase til 10pm

8 PM to 11 Pm - Free. Guinness Presents True Sound Live. Rogue Pub, 3076 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, FL 32806.  Join us for an evening of live music with True Sound presented by Guinness! Get your chance to score some swag and sample some tasty brews while enjoying some amazing local tunes!  True Sound @truesoundorlando

Sunday July 16, 2017
10 AM to Noon - Free. Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources. 

10 AM to 4 PM - Free. Lake Eola Farmers Market. South East corner of Lake Eola Park.

Noon to 1 PM - Free. Yoga. Weekly at Lake Eola near the red gazebo.

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 13, 2017

Urban Sketching with the Elite Animation Academy Summer School students.

I had 16 students for the Elite Animation Academy Urban Sketching class last week. My thought was to bring the students to a different venue each day to sketch.With 16 students we tended to fill up any available seats. The best solution was to divide the class in half and have half the students in one venue and the other half in another. I stayed with the students at Subway, and the interns stayed with students at Planet Smoothie. The lesson for the day was largely about one point perspective. I encouraged the students to find a vanishing point at their eye level and have all the lines in the ceiling panels and floor tiles point at it. There was a mirror on the brick wall across from us and one student could see his reflection in the mirror. I explained that the vanishing point was right between his eyes in the reflection.

I sat down with each student and did a quick composition sketch so they could see how to build a sketch from the outside in. Prior to going on location we had done a series of five minute sketches that broke down the scene into 5 or 6 large shapes. Some students caught on quickly while others needed time to grasp the concept. I painted this sketch digitally the evening of the class by scanning the pencil sketch and painting behind it on a layer. A stop motion movie was created of the entire painting process and I showed that to the students to encourage them to push any sketch that they do towards being a painting by adding color. On the last day, they took their favorite sketch and added watercolor to it. It was a bit of a messy class but the students were very focused for the duration. There is something about adding color that makes a sketch become 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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kelly Day's Firehouse Tavern in Tampa.

I joined Pam Schwartz for a Pulse related interview in Tampa, Florida. After that interview, we decided to head to Ybor City for a drink. Pam claimed that chickens roamed the streets of Tampa which I found hard to believe. When we parked, there were indeed chickens clucking around the parking lot. The wild chicken population that currently resides in Ybor City are direct descendants of the chickens that lived in the backyards of the neighborhoods earliest residents over 100 years ago. Ybor City’s chickens crossing the streets have become a welcome sight for those who live, work and visit the area.

Kelly Day's Firehouse Tavern (1708 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605) is where we decided to park for a bit after the interview. Kelly Day's offers Caribbean-inspired eats in a rustic, tiki bar hut with occasional live music from rock bands to DJs. Formerly the Green Iguana, Kelly Day's claims to have the best burgers in Tampa along with 33 draft beers and 33 bottled beers. An acoustic guitarist was on stage offering classic cover songs. I couldn't resist a quick sketch despite the fact that we were probably here for just a quick drink.

It turned out however that Gasp! The Gasparilla Fringe Festival was going on this week and we couldn't resist seeing what quirky talent Tampa might have to offer. Orlando native Brian Feldman was at the Gasp Festival and I wanted to see how his performance art fit in to the Tampa Arts scene. Just exiting the parking garage was an adventure since there were hundreds of people doing yoga on the lawn in front of the museum where the festival was being held. The festival promised to be a kaleidoscopic circus of theater, dance, music, spoken word, visual art, soundscapes, cabaret, and more. 

In the lobby of the Tampa Museum of Art, Brian Feldman's "Skill Crane Kid" was set up. Brian was located inside one of the skill cranes that you might see at any tacky roadside attraction. Around him was packed plenty of plush toys. For a quarter, you could use a leaver to maneuver the crane and release the metallic jaws to try and retrieve a plush. I decided to try and get a plush Rubix cube. The crane lurched as I played with the joystick. Brain looked nervous that I might try and pluck him out of the machine. I had my eye on the prize however and aimed for the colorful cube. The jaws dropped on the cube and for a moment it seemed like the prize was won. As the chain lifted the jaws, gravity took hold allowing the cube to slip free of the limp clutches of the jaws. AAAArgh! So frustrating. Brian watched and shrugged his shoulders. 

As Pam and I walked away in defeat, Brian's dad suggested that I try my luck one more time. I was hesitant to be lured in again, I'm not someone who ever bets at a race. Brain's dad was insistent however, so I gave it one more try. The person who used the skill crane after me ended up grasping up the cube that I had been aiming for. Ugh! I have absolutely no luck. Despite that I put another quarter in not even thinking about what the prize should be. I considered bonking Brian but the metal jaws dropped without me even considering the target. They clasped around the head of a brown puppy plush and as the jaws rose up, once again the weak clasp started to slip. Brian's hand rose up out of the sea of plush toys and he kept the dog from falling back into the pit. He basically placed the plush in the prize door. I snatched the dog up from the machine and found that I had won a second prize, which was a triangular shaped plush poo.

Pam snuggled the puppy for the rest of the night as we explored the riverfront. The poo kept getting hidden in unexpected places. It has dropped from ceiling fan blades and now resides in the glove box of Pam's truck (for now). The dog has been named Gasp!, and he guards Pam's passenger seats in her truck, but the poo remains unnamed. Who names poo anyway?

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 11, 2017

Bikes Beans and Bordeaux Central Florida Song Circle

On March 29th, I wandered into Bikes Beans and Bordeaux (3022 Corrine Drive Orlando, FL 32803) for a sandwich after sketching at an East End Market wine mixer. Unknown to me there was a monthly song circle going on. Most musicians had guitars and they went round robin performing original songs. One musician performed on percussion, and there was a harmonica, but mostly several guitarists would join in as the performer sang. I had met one guitarist at a monthly guitar song circle that is held at the Winter Park Public Library. He remembered me and introduced himself.

The Central Florida Song Circle is Central Florida's oldest continuous song circle where musicians get together with guitars, violins, bass, fiddles and so on, playing and singing everything from homemade music to OPMs (other people's music). Besides that, the food was good and there was art on the walls form a local artist who creates personalized bike gear, covering helmets and shoes with bold line work. Drawings done on location were of Paris, France. I was pleased to discover another artist who draws on location.

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 10, 2017

Elite Animation Sketch class.

This week I have been teaching a summer sketch class at Elite Animation, (8933 Conroy Windermere Rd, Orlando, FL 32835). I have 16 students and the goal of the class is to encourage the students to carry a sketchbook everywhere they go.  The first class we went over basic shapes and perspective and then for the afternoon we took a field trip across the street to Panera Bread. With 16 students we pretty much filled up the restaurant. It was encouraging to see many of the students using one point perspective for the first time while drawing on location. I remember when I first started drawing on location in NYC. I would circle the block multiple times until I worked up the nerve to start a sketch. Getting these kids started early means they are less likely to be concerned with sketching in public as they grow older.

For the second class, we went to a local retention pond to draw the ducks and bucolic scene. A family of ducks were very cooperative, with the mama duck and her chicks perfectly happy to pose for the intrepid young artists. It was hot however, even in the shade, so attentions wandered. One student started herding the ducks rather than sketching. It was a typical case of leading them to water but it was up to them to drink. Several students took in the entire scene and were right on task. We left a bit early to get back to the air conditioned classroom.

For the afternoon, I taught them the basic proportions of a face and then we set out to do 16 sketches in which students faced-off and did a sketch of each other. I tend to throw out the tasks rather fast and one student unfortunately got intimidated. I thought the student was acting when their head went down on the desk in agony. I later learned that another student had told him that his drawings weren't any good. I'm of the opinion that any drawing if closely observed and sincerely done has value. The interns reassured the student for a bit and then I offered a personal lesson which gave him the confidence to return to the group and start working. It was reassuring to see the student that had been crushed only an hour before laughing as the next sketch was completed. Honestly art is a game, it is challenging, but can always be fun if approached with the right attitude.

Elite Animation Academy's slogan is, "Developing young minds through the art of animation." I'm proud to be part of a team that helps keep art alive in the hearts of students here in Central Florida.

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 9, 2017

Orlando Cringe: The Valentine Show!

The Orlando Cringe Valentine Show was held at The Abbey (100 S Eola Dr, Orlando, Florida 32801). The evening consisted of four brave souls who shared stories of unrequited love, cringe worthy love poetry, and a victory or two from their childhood journals. My favorite couple read from their college journals. He was desperate and often asking for forgiveness and she was career focused. It was enlightening to hear their opposing viewpoints. It was also reassuring because it was clear that the couple found common ground since they are together to this day.

An ongoing joke was about Axe fragrance for men. A poet came out and read a very over the top sappy love poem and then sprayed Axe fragrance. I felt sorry for the folks in the front row, but it was the funniest moment of the night.

Four couples also took part in a Newlywed Game. It was fun to see couples who had been together for years who knew nothing about each other. Two women who had just started dating swept every round to take the prize.

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 8, 2017

Getting tested at the Center.

Now that I have been separated for more than a year, I have had several relationships. To be safe, I decided to go to The Center, (946 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803). STD testing is free and the results are returned within 12 minutes. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are tested through urine. The syphilis test is a finger prick, and the results are available within a few minutes. Of course waiting for the testing is what takes time. I finished 2 sketches in the time it took for me to go in for my test. The HIV test results are considered 99% accurate, so I will be returning for a second test just to be 100% certain. Orange County reported the third highest number of HIV cases in 2014 and the state leads the nation in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases.

A case worker went over the results with me and his assessment of the statistics of STDs in Central Florida were astounding. As he put it, Whorlando is the first in the country for cases of Syphilis, third in the country for Chlamydia, and fifth in the country for Gonorrhea. The number of cases reported rose by over 10,000 in 2015.

The Center for Disease Control published its study on sexually transmitted diseases, reviewing rates from 2015, and found an increase in chlamydia and gonorrhea. Syphilis rates increased the most among the three diseases, seeing a 19 percent increase from 2014. Rates among women went up 27.3 percent, and 18.1 percent among men. Rates of reported chlamydia cases increased by 5.9 percent when compared to 2014 numbers.

Women with chlamydia increased 3.8 percent from 2014, and 10.5 percent among men in the same year. Gonorrhea cases increased by 12.8 percent when compared to the previous year. Men saw the largest increase at 18.3 percent, while women diagnosed with gonorrhea increased by a rate of 6.8 percent.

The alarming rate of STD infections increasing across the country has been attributed to the closing of 21 health care facilities. A younger demographic also seems to feel they are immune or can get early treatment, despite their lack of knowledge. We are lucky to still have the Center here in Orlando. The Center was ground zero after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Since I have been so involved in following Orlando's healing process after that horrible night, it makes sense for me to frequent the Center to be sure I am healthy.

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 7, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for July 8th and 9th.

Saturday July 8, 2017
 4 PM to 6 PM - Free. Young Voices. JB Callaman Center, 102 North Parramore Ave, Orlando FL. Teen Open Mic Every second Saturday of the month.

6 PM to 9 PM - Free. Imaginarium Illustrated Show Reception. Chapman Leonard Studios And Production Center, 9460 Delegates Dr, Orlando, Florida 32837. This Art Reception is a family-friendly event and there will be light refreshments. The artists on display are Morgan Wilson (Lux Nova Studio), Vanessa Farano, David McWhertor, Thomas Thorspecken (Analog Artist Digital World), Mark Harchar, Heidi Kneisl (The Naysayer), James Becker, Genki Goth Studios (Miriam Medina & Dee Jay), Miranda Hauser, Kenyari Gil, and Katiana Robles.
For this installment of Imaginarium they are showcasing the art of illustration with its different styles and mediums. With the up rise in movies made from comic books and children's books, and the fan art industry, it is only fitting to present a show like this one. “The detail that these artists can achieve and the imagination they have is astounding. You can get lost in the stories that some of their pieces portray”, says Jason Lee, the curator for the venue. This group of artists is a mixture of established and emerging individuals that are a vital part of the Central Florida arts community.
The art will be on display May 13 through August 12, 2017. The local artists’ works may also be viewed during normal business hours, 9am-5pm, by appointment with an Arts Hub Org. representative.
Chapman/Leonard Studios are an award winning manufacturer of camera support equipment for motion picture and television productions worldwide. The equipment manufacturer is based out of their state of the art sound stages and production facilities. The Arts Hub Organization strives to enrich communities and create connections by providing curatorial services for commercial & residential spaces; event organization & production; and promotion of artists, events, & venues. You may contact Jason Lee at 321-695-8266 or via email at

8 PM to 10 PM - $5 Second Saturdays in Sanford. 202 S Sanford Ave, Sanford, FL. Live music event featuring 2 stages, drink specials and more.

Sunday July 9, 2017
10 AM to Noon - Free. Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation Class. University, 5200 Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32811. The Method of Heartfulness A simple and practical way to experience the heart’s unlimited resources. 

11:30 AM to 1:30 PM Get food. Drag Brunch. Hamburger Mary's, Church Street Station, 110 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32801.

Noon to 3 PM - Free. Music at the Casa. Beautiful Music String Quartet. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.

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 6, 2017

Waiting for poets.

I went to the Spilled Milk Literary Open Mic in March at The Milk Bar Lounge (2424 E Robinson St, Orlando, Florida 32803). It was to be hosted by Eddie Dts Figures. The Open Mic is a place for litlando to bridge the gap between slam poetry and science-fiction novel, blog post and college thesis, screenplay and fan fiction. If it's worth writing, it's worth spilling on the mic. Content addressing Spring Time and New Beginnings was encouraged.

I had sketched this event in the past and always enjoyed the variety offered. I ordered a cider and started sketching. The bar was pretty empty. The bar owner's dog made his rounds getting affection and attention from each bar patron. The poets never showed up. There was some big poetry slam competition out of state and they were all there to compete or cheer each other on.

Curtis X Meyer is hosting a whole series of open mics this month . All donations and proceeds go towards helping Orlando poet team-mates as they venture off to The National Poetry Slam this August in Denver, Colorado!

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 5, 2017

Artists sketch at the Orlando Skeleton Museum.

Artists gathered at the Museum Of Osteology (near the Orlando Eye, 8441 International Drive Suite 250 Orlando, FL 32819) from 5:30 to 10:30 pm to sketch skeletons. Using the skeletons collection of over 500 REAL skeletons as inspiration, they spent time exploring new skills or perfecting figure drawing in the museum. Event sponsor, Sam Flax of Orlando, provided sketching materials that artists could experiment with, but all artists were encouraged to bring your own pens, pencils, and sketchpads. For this, the second installment of Sketching with Skeletons, the museum extended the event by two hours to allow for more sketching time! Tickets were offered at a discounted price of $12.00. If you brought a valid student or teacher/educator ID, there was an extra discounted price of $10.00.

My plan was to work digitally on my iPad but when Pam Schwartz and I arrived at the Orlando Eye parking lot, I suddenly realized that I hadn't brought my art supply bag! That has never happened to me. Well, the event said that there were some supplies on hand, so, I decided to go regardless and make do with the materials provided. Sure enough, each artist was given a clip board along with several sheets of 11 by 17 inch paper and bulldog clips. I did have pencils in my pocket and around the venue there were some boxes full of colored pencils.

After walking quickly around the museum, I settled on this view of two artists sketching the big cat skeletons. I quickly penciled in the composition and then Pam found me a ball point pen to finish the line work. I actually liked the ball point pen and might work it into my everyday supplies. Coral Dixon, the museum marketing associate introduced herself to me.  She is heading off to college soon to study to be a museum curator.

I was very pleased and surprised with how many artists were on hand to sketch. Coral is clearly doing a great job marketing the event. She contacted all the local tattoo shops, which quite frankly is a stroke of genius. Once the sketch was done, I walked around the exhibit with Pam to catch the highlights. A skeletal dog still had his collar on, and a raccoon skeleton was rummaging through a box of Milk Duds. The sea otter was lounging with his paws neatly tucked behind his head. Former Disney animation artist Woody Woodman was there with his wife, and we got to catch up briefly. Museum founder and owner, Jay Villemarette and Samantha Tutor introduced themselves and Jay gave Pam and I a personal tour. Since Pam is a curator, she had an amazing conversation about the care of the museum which is just 2 years old. Jay was proud to introduce us to the two glass cases of flesh eating beetles. The spongy cotton bottom of the case was swarming with beetles covering several small animal skulls. Jay went back stage and added some water to the tanks which sent the beetles into a real frenzy. They become most active when moisture is added. I started to itch.

I was highly impressed with the event and the museum in general. Orlando is lucky to have the world's top collector and distributor of skeletons right here in town. Jay pointed out that no animal was ever killed for the collection but that each animal died of natural causes. Sea World handlers sometimes return to the museum to pay their respects to the animals once in their care. Humans also donate their skeletons to the collection. Jay is often asked during interviews if he would want his skeleton donated someday. He gives the answer that the interviewer wants, but honestly he doesn't care what becomes of his skeleton. I am hoping that these sketching events continue.  The first one was highly attended with over 75 artists, but the attendance dropped for this second edition to maybe 25 to 30 artists. I hope to introduce the Orlando Urban Sketchers to the venue when I host the Orlando 10 x 10 workshops starting in 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

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Screw fireworks, we all need some Santa on July 4th.

Usually on the first Monday of each month, I host Orlando Drink and Draw (ODD). In May, I decided to host the event at Frosty's Christmastime Lounge (50 East Central Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32801). Frosty is a snowman, Frosty is also what you call a cold cocktail or beer. However you interpret it, it is correct. Frosty's wants to give you the feeling of the holidays all year round. Why wait until December?

Located right near the Orange County Regional History Center, Frosty's does sport plenty of Christmas bling, like stockings hung with care under the liquor bottles, to a fat Santa near the entrance and the the sexy leg lamp won in the film "A Christmas Story." Old school large bulb Christmas lights were strung from the rafters and the TVs only played Christmas specials and movies like "Home Alone." The images on the screen have a strange blue electric haze that may or may not have been intentional, but looked like it was a short circuit.

The specialties at Frosty's are the craft snow cones with names like, Porky's Liposuction, Coconuts roasted over an open fire, and the last wurd. I was the only artist around, so I figured it might be a short evening and I ordered a Heineken. Besides myself, there were only 3 people at the far end of the bar. The sketch progressed quickly. Mandi Ilene Schiff stopped by with her fiancé Robert Johnston. Mandi worked up an intricate redesign of the Frosty's logo. They were soon off to another party as I was finishing up my sketch.

Going to Frosty's early on a Monday night wasn't very exciting, but I am sure the place perks up as the evening wears on. I heard that there is snow sometimes, but I didn't witness it myself. I might return as the weather cools down a bit.

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 3, 2017

Hang gliding at Wallaby Ranch.

The last week of May was a birthday week celebration. I went to Wallaby Ranch with Pam Schwartz the curator at the Orange County Regional History Center. The ranch, (1805 Deen Still Rd, Davenport, FL 33897) is located a short drive from Orlando. As soon as we exited Deen Road into the drive, a sign overhead announced that we had arrived. The plan was to stay in one of the tiny cabins, called hooches) for the night and then fly at the crack of dawn the next morning.
Oliver van Dam Merrett greeted us and drove us around the property in a golf cart. There is a huge hanger full of hang gliders and a dozen or so hooches, a pool, volleyball court and a central barn gathering area where pilots congregate before and after the flights. Nikki Meir had helped me make arrangements for the day and she introduced us to her new puppy named Larry. Since it was late in the day with little wind, folks were grounded. We decided to watch the sunset from the pool.

The next day we got up before the sun to the sound of a plane engine firing up. We were rushed out to the field which acts as the take-off area and several guests were strapped in and went up before "Tom!" was called. I kept sketching since I'm used to answering to "Thor". People kept gesturing my way and it finally dawned on me that I should get up. I tripped over a puppy (Larry) on my way to my hang glider. Within seconds, I was signing my life away and then, Malcolm Jones, the ranch owner strapped in beside me. Malcom is said to have had more safe flights that anyone else in the world. Central Florida is a great place for hang gliding because the coastal winds meet in the center of the state and rise. People come from around the world to fly here. You strap in by stepping into what looks like a sleeping bag and then you lie down suspended from support straps. A small yellow plane was latched by rope to the front of the hang glider and before I had time to get nervous, we were quickly accelerating across the field. The wheels left the bumpy ground and we were up.

The ground gradually slipped farther away. The plane kept circling the property gradually gaining altitude. I saw another hang glider take off below me and assumed it must be Pam getting the same experience. Then the strap to the plane was released and we were on our own. We glided in silence and Malcolm said to me, "Welcome to my office." The experience wasn't what I expected. The was no gut wrenching thrill, but instead a simple peace as we glided over the gorgeous landscape.  A reservoir was in the distance and the properties were neatly divided into a grid. Light wisps of clouds floated below us and our hang glider cast a shadow onto them. That shadow was surrounded by an amazing circular rainbow. I have never seen anything like it before. The, we circled and went right into one of the clouds.

I was told to let go of the steering bar in front of me for a moment and the hang glider stayed steady. "See, it flies itself" I was told. Pulling back would slow us down, edging the nose up, and pushing forward accelerated us as we glided down. Pulling left and right of course circled us in those directions. The ground was slowly getting closer. I spotted Pam on the field, and she waved to me. I was told later that we hung in the air motionless for some time above the field. Malcolm took control of the glider and guided us, landing belly down on the field.

Pam had not gotten to fly yet and we were told that with the winds picking up, the flight would need to be canceled for the day. They don't take chances at Wallaby, they know good flying conditions and do not push the limits for safety's sake. We decided to stay one more day in the hooch and Pam was the first person in the air the next morning. Evenings feel like a relaxed camp outing with friends as we sat in the barn and played games while several guests got out a guitar and sang. The pool saw plenty of use in the heat of the day and some pilots hung out under the large live oak trees to exchange flying stories. I can see how this could become an addictive lifestyle. You need to go up on 20 tandem flights before you can fly solo and Wallaby offers lessons from some very experienced hang gliding pilots. This was truly an experience of a lifetime.

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 2, 2017

Pulse Memorial and Candlelight Vigil.

The parking lot of Christ Church Unity Orlando (771 W Holden Ave, Orlando, Florida 32839) was full and we were directed to park on the grass. This vigil happening one year and three days after the Pulse Nightclub massacre was going to be crowded. The invitation noted that no backpacks were allowed in the sanctuary. I decided to use my iPad to sketch so I could leave my bag of watercolor art supplies behind.

A harp player set the mood as we entered the sanctuary. Governor Rick Scott entered with his entourage. Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan was also in attendance. The evening was a celebration of life, honoring and remembering the lives so tragically taken in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. It was to be a time of healing, love, and unity for all. The names of the victims were read aloud during the ceremony.

 Pastors from several churches were in attendance along with Terri Stead-Pierce, Senior Pastor of Joy Metropolitan Community Church. Joy has been an open and accepting place of worship for the gay community for over 30 years. After Pulse happened, Joy was overlooked as churches held memorial services to honor those lost. A year later and Joy is no longer being marginalized. Music offered solace as candles were handed out to everyone in attendance. The warm glow lighting each individual face.

After the ceremony, Commissioner Patty Sheehan offered me a hand-made quilt crafted by the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild. The quilt had rainbow colored hearts in bold rows of color. The Central Florida based quilters wanted to help after the Pulse tragedy and so did what they know best, which is to sew. A call to help went out to the quilting community and the response was grand.  Quilts and quilt blocks were created and sent from 22 countries and 50 states. The goal was to gather enough quilts to help not only the victims who survived, but the families of victims who perished, as well as first responders, nurses, police officers, etc. They started with a goal of making about 100 quilts and have now made over 2000.

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 1, 2017

That's a drawing of me! It's mine!

In April of last year I separated from my wife. For 6 months I rented a snowbird's place in Winter Park. After being separated for more than a year, I went into mediation with my wife. The simple goal of the meeting with 3 lawyers and ourselves was to divide the assets we had built together over the years. The mediation lasted all day with my wife and her lawyer sequestered away in a separate room. When 5PM rolled around with the lawyers wanting to get home, she set a final demand. She wanted half of the sketchbooks that I had created since I started this blog in 2009. My lawyer was
stumped. What value could these sketchbooks have? There was a spreadsheet that divided up our assets. Her Porche was in her column, my Prius in mine. It was decided that my sketchbooks, my original works of art, should go on the spreadsheet opposite her jewelry. Negotiations broke down. I could not give up something that was so much a part of myself. There is also something called copyright which states that once an artist creates an image it is his. Certain reproduction rights can be sold, but the image remains the artists. The divorce will have to be settled in court.

Hurricane Maxine set me up on a date with an artist in town. Hurricane Mathew resulted in my lending my advice to this woman about how to secure her yard items so they might not become missiles in the high winds. I moved heavy items and secured the property. We rode the storm out together. Over 6 months, this Hurricane Mathew relationship grew rocky as well. After we had gone our separate ways she decided that I owed her two prints of sketches that I had done of her in her home. I had already given her an original portrait for Christmas.That wasn't enough. The sketches were of happier times that she wanted to keep.  She also wanted a signed copy of my book in return for some editing she had volunteered to do on my resume.  Why is it that any woman I meet starts demanding to take my work? I don't get royalties for selling my book, so I would be paying the publisher wages I had earned by writing the book in the first place. Should I just start painting still lifes? Perhaps I should only be sketching cute cats and puppies, they seem very popular on social media and they offer unconditional love without needing to have the sketch. I've decided that people are too demanding a subject.

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