Monday, April 30, 2018

They Love to Watch Her Strut

This year I am one of 25 artists participating in the Winter Park Paint Out. Each artist is assigned one morning or afternoon session in which they have to do a painting on the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens property. I was assigned to paint on Thursday afternoon. I stop by every afternoon anyway to drop off the previous day's painting for the gallery wall. My wall by the way is right next to the bathrooms in case you go and want to find my work. I have been told that is a good spot to have your work hang since everyone has to go to the bathroom at some time.

I wandered the property checking out each artist's work in progress. There is always so much to learn just seeing how different artists block in their paintings. My second priority was o find a shady spot to park myself to do a painting. My baseball hat was left behind on the Frontier plane I took back to Orlando last week. I know the hat was on the plane since I used it to hold all my belongings going through security. After all the passengers were off I went back on the plane to go to my seat to see where it fell. I was damn near tackled by a male stewardess who shouted at me "GET OFF THE PLANE repeatedly. I understood him the first time and backed off. He called back on an intercom for someone to look at seat 30A and immediately announced that the hat wasn't there. Did they even take the time to look? Another passenger had worn his expensive headphones on the plane and he hoped to get them back since they must have fallen off while he slept. His was a lost cause as well. Clearly these items were pocketed. That is what you get for flying a low budget airline. As I walked away one of the airport cleanup crew said "I apologize for his behavior." That can't make up for Frontier crew treating customers like crap. I plan to get a new hat at some point and I will pay to have "Never Fly Frontier" embroidered onto it.

This statue by Albin Polasek is titled "Maiden of the Roman Campagna." In stark silhouette, she looks like she is wearing headphones and dancing to music. The house next to the Polasek Museum was playing a Bob Seger  song called "They Love to Watch Her Strut." "They do respect her butt, they love to watch her strut." I imagined that was the music she was listening to as I sketched. She is actually holding a long strand of braided hair, but I preferred to leave her listening to headphones. That song played on a loop for the next two hours or so. I don't know why someone would ever want to hear the same some over and over again for. I started to wonder if I should let someone know that the person on the property next door had died while listening to the song and the music would repeat for eternity until someone found the body.

Multiple patrons stopped to see my sketch in progress. A little boy was curious about my brush which holds water in it's handle. He felt this as like having a James Bond water gun with you anywhere you went. He desperately wanted one so he could squirt his friends by surprise.

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, April 29, 2018

Winter Park "Sunset Paint In"

The public was invited to come by as Winter Park Paint Out Artists gathered on the shore of Lake Maitland, hosted by the Winter Park Racquet Club (2111 Vía Tuscany Winter Park, FL 32789.) There the artists captured a beautiful Florida sunset from the west-facing shores Lake Maitland. Guests settled in with friends and family as dusk drew near and they watched the magic unfold across  canvasses. This was the perfect opportunity for members and non-members of the club to invite guests and check out this one-of-a-kind event. Artists painted along the shoreline as well as throughout the lush and festive grounds. Guests could grab a drink and share the vista and watch as these outstanding artists created a vivid sunset memory on canvas. Artwork was available for sale the night of the event and you can also see the evenings completed artwork in the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens (633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789) “wet room” gallery through April 28, 2018.

I set up in the shade of a bush to sketch the artists working in the shade in front of the mansion that is next to the Racquet club. It turns out I was right next to the admissions tent which is where everyone picked up their cup and a comment card to see which wines were the best. Since I was right at the entrance, quite a few people stopped to look over my shoulder. The multiple conversations were as enlightening and fun as getting the sketch done. I met a water colorist who knew of my work from Instagram. I also ran into Cher Cloude Topps, a former student who was experiencing the paint out for the first time.  Robert Willson asked me quite a few questions about the fountain pen I was using. It turns out he hand makes fountain pens and we spoke about having me take one of his pens for a "test drive" and giving him feedback on how the pen works for creating art.

The artist in the red shirt was Don Sontag from Winter Park. He was working on a painting of the admissions tents with the sunset behind them. The other artist I believe was Scott Heistand from Ormond Beach. Unfortunately he left before I got a chance to see his finished painting. By the time this sketch was done, the sun was about to set. I was given a sandwich and some chips, so I stood closer to the water to watch the final moments as the sun hit the horizon. The temperature immediately dropped, so I decided it was time to turn in my wine voucher. The red wine warmed me up a bit as I joked with a few of the artists before I left.

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, April 28, 2018

Painting Demo

Winter Park Paint Out Artist Steve Andrews gave a painting demonstration in Downtown Orlando at the Orange County Administration Building Sculpture Garden (201 South Rosalind Avenue Orlando FL). He set up on the lawn facing the Orlando skyline. This was a free event so anyone was invited to attend. As I arrived, Rachel Frisby and several assistants were setting up the Albin Polasek Museum banner and a tent. I paced around an tried to figure out what I should sketch as they set up. I finally realized I should sit back a bit so I could include the sculpture of a man trying to fly with I-beams and very non aerodynamic wings. It seemed fitting in that it implied to me that most of man's aspirations though well intentioned can be futile. I had every intention of doing a good sketch but it always seems that circumstances are always set in place to keep me from the task of taking flight.

Several people approached as I set up the scene asking well intentioned questions that stole time as the sun raced towards the horizon. Terry Olson who heads up the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs stopped to say hello. He then checked out Steve's progress and headed on his way, probably to another cultural event. I see him everywhere I go. A security guard from the Orange County Building approached and asked if I was with the County. It was clear he was looking to stop my sketch in progress. I told him I was, to buy time, and kept working. My mistake had been to say hello to him as he did his rounds. He approached a second time and asked to see my credentials. I showed him my Winter Park Paint Out badge and told him that this was an event that had been approved with a permit. He told me he had not been informed and I assume he went back inside to call around to see if he could get the artist/anarchist off of the city property. I must have seemed an easy target since I sat apart from the crowd. His main concern was that this would be an isolated event. We don't want artists running amok downtown, now do we?

Steve began blocking in his painting as everyone sat on the lawn to watch. The biggest challenge was looking straight into the setting sun. Instead of using line, he boldly blocked in the shapes in oil always being able to refine a shape as the painting progressed. He told a story that his father had been a doctor during world War II and he was one of the few doctors who stayed in Orlando during the war effort. Orange County Regional History Center curator Pam Schwartz made arrangements to get his fathers oral history.

The crowd gathered to watch Steve paint broke out into laughter. I didn't understand why at first. Rachel later explained that her dog had taken the moment to squat in front of the artist and take a lingering dump right in the scene he was painting. "Everyone is a critic!" Steve mused.

Today is the last day of the Winter park Paint Out, so it is your last chance to see all the paintings that have been created this week in the "wet gallery". Admission to the Albin Polasek Museum (633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789) is free for the paint out until 5pm. Tonight is the Paint Out Garden Party from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. This is the big blow out gala which showcases all of the art from the event. Over 400 patrons are expected to attend dressed in cabana chic garden attire. Tickets to the Garden Party are  $100 in advance or $125 at the door. Each ticket enti­tles the buyer to $50.00 off the pur­chase of a paint­ing dur­ing the Gar­den Party! (Limit one ticket per paint­ing val­ued at $300 or more)

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for Aprtil 28th and 29th

Saturday April 28, 2018
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. $5 Oktoberfest. German American Society, 381 Orange Ln, Casselberry, FL 32707. The most authentic Oktoberfest in Central Florida. What makes the festival stand out above others is the dedication to providing authentic and traditional German music, food, beer, and entertainment. You will find a live band playing German music in the Fest hall as well as a large outdoor beer garden. The food menu offers home cooked schnitzels, sauerbraten, goulasch, wursts, potato salad, potato pancakes and more. These items are prepared and cooked by German American Society members. The plentiful bars offer genuine Hofbräu beers imported from Germany as well as wine, German schnapps, and liquors. The Orlando Trachtenverein provides traditional Bavarian dancing and entertainment on our large dance floors.
Vendor partners provide additional food items, German/Bavarian clothing and souvenirs, children's activities such as bounce house, face painting, and more. The drink ware tent offers a selection of steins, glassware, and boots you can purchase and take with you to the beer tents.
Due to the popularity of this event and limited space, presale tickets are offered as a discounted price that will guarantee your admission. Same day walk-up tickets are also available on a first come, first serve basis. Parking is available at the end of Orange lane through a 3rd party for a $5 fee. There are limited disabled parking only spots on our property. Other business around the area also offer parking.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. SPRING ART SALE (Just in time for Mother’s Day!) Crealdé Main Campus 600 St. Andrews Blvd Winter Park, FL 32792. Crealdé artists sell their work.

5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Paint Out Garden Party. Part of the Witer Park Paint Out. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, 633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.  Dress in comfy shoes--it’s a LONG night and it can get very warm in the gallery with so many people (400+)! There is no dress code, but I’d say cabaña chic/garden cocktail attire. Artists will be mingling with guests and engaging folks in conversation about their art. This is their night to shine and showcase your body of work that you worked so hard to produce!
— On site parking is not available, but you can catch the Garden Party Shuttle from
the Sun Trust parking lot a few block away.
There is NO PARKING permitted on Osceola Court, Henkel Circle or Trismen Terrace. Visitors parking on these streets are subject to towing per the parking restriction by the City of Winter Park.
10:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Free but get food and or drinks.  Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL. Hot blooded Flamenco dancing to live acoustic guitar.

Sunday April 29, 2018
Noon to 1 p.m. Donation based. Yoga. Lake Eola park near the Red Gazebo.

2 p.m. to 10 p.m. $20 - $40. Poca's Hottest 7th Annual Sauce Cook-Off.  Will's Pub 1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803. A fun filled family friendly event loaded with great food, killer tunes, and all the sauce you can handle.
The Ludes
The Legendary JC's
The Goldminers
Sideshow Revival
Druid Lord
Tears of a Tyrant
Leisure Chief

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free but get a drink.  Stephan Mikes - Sitarist with Riad Abdulsalam on Tabla. The Imperial at Washburn Imports 1800 N Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida 32804. Stephan Mikes performing his original music on Sitar accompanied by Riad Abdulsalam on Tabla. Traditional Indian sounds combined with a bit of rock reggae blues and electronica!

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, April 26, 2018

Winter Park Paint Out: Peacock Junction

In a small suburban neighborhood south of Michigan street in Orlando. peacocks roost each night in this live Oak tree. I had just gotten back to Orlando on a red eye flight from Las Vegas and taught an Urban Sketching course at Crealde. This year I am participating as one of the 25 artists in the Winter Park Paint Out. When I got back in town, I read an e-mail from Rachel Frisby the Albin Polasek Museum curator, and one of her suggested locations to paint was this neighborhood. Though running on fumes, I decided to immediately head that way to check it out.

The sun was setting as Pam Schwartz and I arrived. We could hear the Peacocks before we saw them. They resembled large looming vultures when we first saw them in the tree. It had rained earlier in the day, so there were puddles of water to sip. Neighborhood cars would slow and drive around the birds which were in no rush to get out of the way. One car parked in front of me while I sketched and the driver shouted out, "You can take a few home with you if you like!" He then pulled into the driveway of the blue home I was sketching. His daughter later came out to introduce herself. She was an actress who I had sketched in a murder mystery ghost show. In that performance he was dresses like a rocker chick with a Mohawk, so I didn't recognize her at first. I believe she will be in the cast of "Patrons Pick For Murder" at the Orlando Fringe starting May 18, 2018. Tickets are on sale now.

A small puppy was being taken for a walk. He was unfazed by the peacocks, some of which were much larger that him. The front door of the tan home opened and an entire bucket of bird seed was thrown out in the yard. Soon there had to be at least 50 peacocks crowded around the seed. Two males strutted around the yard with their tail feathers in full display shaking their booties. One female wandered too close and she was hypnotized by the display. In an instant he mounted her and the entire encounter lasted only seconds. As it grew darker more and more peacocks wandered en mass towards the tree. This street is located between two small lakes and the birds probably came from the water to this location to roost for the night, there being protection in numbers. Their calls sounded like, "HEEEELP MEEEE." I asked the actress how she slept at night and she claims that you get used to the noise over time. That seems unlikely to me because the noise is deafening. Any time a car dives by with its head light on the entire flock starts screaming out, "HEEEEELP MEEEEE."

The 10th Annual Winter Park Paint out is happening this week through April 28th. Admission to the Polasek Museum (633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789) is free for the duration of the event. Hours from Monday to Thursday are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday April 27, the hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday April 28th, the hours are 9 a.m. to noon. My work created this week will be hanging in the gallery. Artists are always painting in the museum gardens which are beautiful. Come on out and see all the new art. I might be standing near this painting subtly screaming out "HEEEELP MEEEE!"

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, April 25, 2018

The Winter Park Sunset “Paint-In”

Winter Park Paint Out artists gathered on the shore of Lake Mait­land at the Win­ter Park Rac­quet Club (2111 Via Tus­cany, Win­ter Park). There they cap­tured a beau­ti­ful Florida sun­set, and then they took a break from the week’s activ­i­ties. The public was invited to watch as these out­stand­ing artists cre­ated a sun­set mem­ory on can­vas. A cash-only bar and buf­fet were avail­able to non-members! I love sketching artists at work so I always stop out each year.

This year I was invited to participate as one of the artists in the week long Winter park Paint out so I will be executing sketches every day the event. On Friday April 27th, I will be doing a digital sketch at the  Polasek Museum and projecting the image for people to watch as they mix and mingle. The evening is a Happy Hour and Mixed-Media Sketch Demonstration.

Two local historic studios, the Albin Polasek Museum (633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32789) and the Jack Kerouac Project, will join forces to present this night of live art. Local poets and winners of the Winter Park Paint Out’s live poetry contest on will read their work while artist Thomas Thorspecken, known locally as Thor from Analog Artist Digital World blog, showcase the art of the rapid sketch. Plein air requires the ability to adapt and capture the subject matter quickly while conveying the energy and emotion of the subject. True to Thor’s digital following, the artist’s sketch and progress will be projected onto a large screen so viewers can enjoy the developing picture while they contemplate the diverse poetry selections. Orlando’s first poet laureate, Susan Lilley, will participate in the evening’s poetry reading. A wine/beer bar and appetizers will be available for happy hour beginning at 5 p.m. through 8 p.m. So if you would like to see me do a sketch live or perhaps you just want to heckle me, come on out and grab a few drinks.

This year's Sunset Paint In is happening on April 25th 2018 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. again at the Winter Park Racquet Club (2111 Vía Tuscany Winter Park, FL 32789.) The event is free but it is suggested that you register in Eventbrite. I will once again be sketching away. I'm not sure if I will do a digital sketch or analog.

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, April 24, 2018

Night of Percussion

Night of Percussion was a free concert that was part of UCF Celebrates the Arts held at the Walt Disney Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL 32801). This was a day of workshops and performances culminates in a celebration featuring guest artist Michael Burritt and the UCF Percussion Ensemble.

The Music of Michael Burritt concert featured the following program of his percussion works:
Fandango 13
Blue Ridge
Marimba Quartet
Home Trilogy

Thad Anderson, Kirk Gay, and Jeff Moore, were the directors.
The performers included Matt Albano, Joshua Albert, Chris Baird, Nicholas Cabiness, Nick Chase, Calvin Chiu, Steve Estes, Carson Griego, Griffin Harvey, Will Huth, Joe Jones, Matt Malhiot, Christ Marsh, Christian Martin, Joey Noble, Deborah Parsons, Madison Schafer, and Austin Warren

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, April 23, 2018

Jill's Cash Box at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Jill's Cash Box is a Country Band that performed on the lawn in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts from 5 7 p.m. on  Saturday night in April. The lawn was surrounded by a temporary metal fence for the occasion. To get inside this free concert, I had to go through a metal detector and bag search. My art supplied always raise suspicions so it takes me a bit longer to get through. This concert was two months prior to the June 12, 2916 attack on the Pulse Nightclub that left 49 people dead and forever changed our city.

AT the time of this country concert I thought all the heightened security was crazy since less that 24 people attended the concert in their folding chairs. However now looking back after Pulse and the mass shooting in Las Vegas I see that this is the new reality. Perhaps this amount of security wasn't actually enough. I am in Las Vegas right now and once I finish this article I will be going to sketch the makeshift memorial set up by the Mandalay Bay Hotel. At that mass shooting the set up was very similar to this concert. There were security fences and bag checks to get into the concert but the entire field was exposed to the elevated rooms of the hotel across the street. This lawn in Orlando is also exposed to the Grand Bohemian hotel right across the street.

At the vigil held for victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in this same grass field, there were no fences, no bag checks and no metal detectors. Concerns that a copycat shooter might attack the candle light vigil must have been a very real concern but inclusion, acceptance and trusting love were far more over riding themes that night. I  found myself scanning roof tops and there were police snipers to be found. The new reality is that we can be shot by a gun toting lunatic at any time, and stripping down and being searched is not really any form of protection. In the Federal Courthouse, covering the Noor Salman Trial, I walked through the building holding my shoes, belt and possessions since I had to go through a second metal detector and search right outside the courtroom. Going to the bathroom required its own search. Security footage showed the gunman entered Pulse with his assault riffle up and ready to shoot . He walked right past security, entered the club and started immediately shooting people at point blank range.

Was Jill's Cash Box a good concert? I honestly don't remember. But it was certainly a more innocent time. One of the memorial phrases to come from the Las Vegas mass shooting is "Country Strong."

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, April 22, 2018

Elixir of Love at The Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts.

Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) was a light hearted operatic comedy that was staged for free at the Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts (445 S Magnolia Ave
Orlando, FL 32801.) This truly classic opera endures the ages and speaks to the hearts of all who come in contact with it. 

Elixir tells the story of a young, poor man, Nemorino (David Soto Zambrana) who tries to win the heart of a beautiful wealthy woman, Adina (Romana Saintil). Add to the mix a blustering self-absorbed officer, Belcore (Justin Morrison) and a traveling quack doctor, Dr. Dulcamara (Juan Tomas Martinez) who claims to sell potions that cure everything from psoriasis and old age to diabetes and – well, you name it! – and you have the principal cast of one of the most beloved and melodic operas ever written.

This modernized adaptation featured a cast member on a Segway which clearly set the scene in the modern day. The painted backdrop set the scene in a modern day park. Nemorino yearns for Adina from a distance. Sergeant Belcore his passion for Adina. Dulcamara sells a bottle of a love elixir to Nemorino who drinks it. He approaches Adina with a confident swagger and she is turned off and decides to flirt with Belcore. It was basically a story of how drinking lots of wine builds your romantic confidence and love wins in the end. It was a fun operatic romp.

The production was staged as part of the week long UCF Celebrates the Arts.

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, April 21, 2018

Dance 10 at the Dr.Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dance 10 featured 80 dancers who performed at the Disney Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (455 S. Magnolia Avenue Orlando FL.) The performance was one of many during the week long UCF Celebrates the Arts. In the spring of 2015, the university launched this
festival to celebrate UCF’s visual and performing arts through plays, exhibitions, and musical performances.

For its second year, the School of Performing Arts and the School of Visual Arts and Design, in
collaboration with community and university partners, has prepared a showcase of UCF’s
vibrant disciplines to delight and educate audiences. The festival included over 30 performances by Theatre students and Music students, as well as gallery and interactive exhibitions by student visual artists. The showcase brought to Central Florida a celebration of the talent, creativity, and dedication of the school's student artists. 

The Disney Theater was packed for Dance 10. I had to find a spot in the nose bleed seats. Many of the people  in the audience around me seemed like they might be dancers themselves. With the low light, I  painted the scene with just the three primary colors, red yellow and blue. It was a good lesson in leaving out local colors like the colors of a dress or the tint of a blouse, and instead just focusing on large washes to cover the page quickly. Photography and video wasn't allowed but no one mentioned that art could not be created at a festival of the arts.

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, April 20, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for April 21 and 22, 2018

Saturday April 21, 2018
8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parramore Farmers Market. the east side of the Orlando City Stadium, across from City View. Open every Saturday on the east side of the Orlando City Stadium, across from City View.Purchase quality, fresh and healthy food grown in your own neighborhood by local farmers, including Fleet Farming, Growing Orlando, and other community growers.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Book Festival. Downtown Orlando Public Library 101 E. Central Blvd.Orlando FL 32801. The Orlando Book Festival is a day-long celebration of books at the Orlando Public Library. New York Times bestseller S. Jae-Jones, author of Wintersong, will kick off the day with an opening keynote. Join us for panels, writing workshops, book signings, and more from bestselling authors from all over the country. Enjoy a closing keynote address from New York Times bestseller David Baldacci. Seating is limited for the David Baldacci talk; a limited number of wristbands will be distributed starting at 9:30 a.m. You must be present to receive a wristband. One wristband per person.
This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but RSVP on Facebook to see updates and ask questions. 
Schedule (Subject to Change)
For Readers and Writers
10-10:50 a.m. Opening Keynote - S. Jae-Jones
10 a.m. - 2p.m. Literary Organization Tables
11-11:50 a.m. Panel and Workshop, Session 1
12-12:50 p.m. Panel and Workshop, Session 2
1-1:50 p.m. Panel and Workshop, Session 3
2-2:50 p.m. Closing Keynote - David Baldacci
2-2:50 p.m. Explore the Melrose Center
3-4:30 p.m. Book Signing, all authors 

4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Cruisin' Downtown DeLand Car Show! East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL . Classic cars & rods. Live DJ, giveaways, shopping & dining. Fun for the family! Every 3rd Saturday night!
INFO: & for showing your car 386-738-0649
East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL

Sunday April 22, 2018
 Noon to 3 p.m. Donation based. Music at the Casa. Vocalist and Guitarist Reverend Shawn Garvey. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Members of the public are invited to visit our historic home museum on a Sunday afternoon from 12 to 3 pm, listen to live music and take a tour of our historic home museum and the James Gamble Rogers II Studio by trained docents.

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free. "Chalk Walk" program open-house Polasek House. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, 633 Osceola Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. The week-long Winter Park Paint Out plein air festival officially starts with this open house event where artists will be on site painting the picturesque sculpture gardens. Artist Michelle Held will lead registered teams in the “Student Chalk Walk” program by showing visitors and students her chalk design on one of the garden’s sidewalk squares. Students will have just two hours to complete their designs which will be on display through the week-long event. Complimentary plein air watercolor activities appropriate for all ages and skill levels will be available in the gardens throughout the afternoon. E-mail to register a team to participate in the chalk walk. More information on Winter Park Paint Out at

10 Midnight. Free but get a coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out and 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, April 19, 2018

Tiffany Johnson Bartending at Pulse on June 12, 2016

There is sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

Tiffany Johnson was bar tending the Pulse Nightclub patio bar on the night of the attack on June 12, 2016. Pulse was a second job, her fun job. She also worked at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. She would go straight from Dr. Phillips to her evening shift at Pulse.  She  was introduced to the club by a friend named Ryan who asked her to come see him dance. Ryan also let her know that they were hiring bartenders and she applied for the job. Neema Bahrami interviewed her and she started in 2015 as a bartender on call. Pulse felt comfortable, and she knew Ryan, so it was like family. By June, she was starting to work Saturdays with another bartender on the Pulse patio.

On the evening of June 11, 2016 Tiffany was working at Dr. Phillips as usual. The show that night let out late though she couldn't remember what it was.  When she got to Pulse, the other bartender was already doing her thing. It was a busy night but not super busy. Fringe had just ended so the night was slow in comparison. She took a cellphone photo of the crowd dancing.

A little after 2 a.m. the bartenders stopped after last call. Tiffany's computer had broken, so she was sharing a computer with the other bartender. Tiffany texted her boyfriend "Lets go eat." She went to the bathroom and cut through the VIP area to get back up front. Brian was talking to her as she gathered her sales slips. In mid sentence, as he spoke to her, two shots went off. Then the shots just started. She saw out of her periphery and then ran to the outside corner of the bar. She was frozen. The music was still going. She could hear people running and screaming. Then Ryan shouted, "Everybody out!" She snapped back into reality and ran out, thinking, 'please don't shoot me in the back.' Somebody was running with her. "What the hell is going on?" she asked. "I don't know, someone is shooting." he countered. His car was in the parking lot. She shouted at him, "Is this your car?" "Get in the car lets go!" They drove around the neighborhood. She doesn't smoke, but she started chain smoking his Newport's. She tried to get him to take her to her friend's house, but she was too distraught to give directions. She called her boyfriend who was working in a downtown club.

By this time sirens could be heard approaching. They parked at McDonald's, which is just south of Pulse on Orange Avenue. People were coming into McDonald's covered in blood. There weren't major injures, but the blood might have been from other people who had been shot. A bum started asking people for money. Couldn't he see what was going on? She went off on him. The other person she rode with's friend made it to McDonald's to meet them. "Can you just drop me off Downtown?" she asked him. Then she looked down at her hands and she realized she was still clutching her credit card slips. She had been holding them all this time. The friend dropped her off on Garland Avenue and she ran to the Beacham Theater where her boyfriend worked. The bouncer didn't let her in, at first thinking she might just be some distraught drunk girl. When she saw her boyfriend she broke down and cried. They went back to Pulse together but couldn't get close. She wanted to recover her car and belongings. The police said to, "Take her home." She couldn't sleep that night, it was horrible.

She didn't have her house key, phone, car, or any of her belongings. Her friends got some clothes for her. She basically lived in her Pulse t shirt for a week. She was helpless and didn't know what to do. The police interview took about half an hour. They could not let her know when she could get her car and it put her in a really weird place. She finally got a call  that she could pick up her car a week and a half later. There was human matter on the hood. A friend of hers details cars, so they traded cars and he got it deep cleaned for her. Inside some Michael Kors merchandise had literally melted.

It took about a month for the full magnitude of what happened to hit her. She couldn't go to the Dr. Phillips vigil, she wasn't ready. That Thursday there was a fundraiser at Southern Nights and that was an emotional night. That Friday they all met a Neema's house. She did get to the Lake Eola Vigil. Over time she learned who had survived and who died that night. Camping World Stadium assistance wasn't too complicated, it was just weird that she had to do it. Southwest airlines sent her home for two weeks. On the second day at Camping World, she got her purse back. She had to sketch out where she had been that night.

Orlando had showed up in strength that first week and a half. She felt proud to live here. She was invited with some survivors to Boston. That particular group got very close. The parade was amazing. It was good to get away and finally relax. Sometimes when the survivors get together and start talking about that evening, she just has to remove herself from the conversation.

Barbara Poma invited some of the Pulse staff to return to the building and go inside. Tiffany didn't have a chance to go back to the patio where she worked that night because someone had tried to break into the building and the area was blocked off. To her, it seemed eerie inside. It did nothing for her. She kind of wished that she just remembered the place as it used to be, but now there was this new memory. Tiffany started bartending again when Pulse employees started holding events at The Abbey. It felt OK because she was with everyone. She has a new family since that evening. That is the best part of the whole shitty mess.

This article and sketch have been posted with the express written permission of the interviewee. Analog Artist Digital World takes the privacy and wishes of individuals very seriously.

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, April 18, 2018

“Merging Art and Language in Museums”

Sergio Bessa gave a talk titled, “Merging Art and Language in Museums” at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, (1414 Art Center Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168). I figured this was a fine subject to  bring along Pam Schwartz, the chief curator at the Orange County Regional History Center. The Atlantic Arts Center of the Arts is like an artist camp set out in the woods at the edge of civilization. Boardwalks interconnect communal cabins. We were at a loss to find where the talk would take place and we finally asked another artist wandering about, and he guided us there. The lecture hall was about the size of a small basketball court with stadium seating for the attendees. We sat in the front row to get a good view of Sergio. Perhaps a dozen or so people filed in to listen.

Sergio Bessa is the director of curatorial and education programs at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which he joined in 2003. A scholar of concrete poetry, Bessa has published several volumes on the subject.  At the Bronx Museum, he has organized several exhibitions including Joan Semmel: The Lucid Eye (2013), Paulo Bruscky: Art is our last hope (2013); Martin Wong: Human Instamatic (2015), in collaboration with Yasmin Ramirez, and later this year he will present Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect, organized in collaboration with Jessamyn Fiore.

The talk was all about concrete poetry, which is poetry organized to fill specific shapes and structures. Concrete poetry has developed from a long tradition of shaped poems in which the words are arranged in such a way as to depict their subject. The talk was a dry and in-depth look at concrete poetry in its early days in Brazil. Without digital tricks the early poets had to rely on typewriters with different colored ink tapes and extensive use of actual cutting and pasting of text. A poem by Augusto de Campos, titled “here are the lovers,” is meant to depict nude lovers copulating. 

Other audience members must have had a solid week of exposure to concrete poetry because they interpreted the work with reflective and deep interpretation as if their grade depended upon it. Personally, if I want to depict something on a page, I  would much rather sketch it with line and color  than be limited by the linear structure of words. Now that I am firmly aware of this form of poetry, it seems I can't escape it. Pam and I ran across a concrete poetry exhibit in Miami shortly after the talk. Every poem was arranged the the shape of a cube. What did it all mean? I don't know. I don't think I am esoteric enough to let this poetry affect me deeply. I  just like to draw stuff. Pam was just surprised that the talk had absolutely nothing to do with museums.

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, April 17, 2018

Orlando Drink and Draw 10

Orlando Drink and Draw ventures to a new bar each month to sample beers and sketch. There is no model fee and no instruction. This is just a chance to get out, meet fellow artists and draw. Big Daddy's (Orlando 3001 Corrine Dr, Orlando, Florida 32803) is a traditional dive bar in the Audubon District.  New owner Frankie Guerrero has made some amazing improvements including a new game room and additional table seating area.

This ODD event wasn't very crowded, but quality artists showed up like Audrey Zindler, Noga Grossman and also Wendy Wallenberg. The place had the rich thick smell of cigarettes which for me was a draw back. I breathed shallow as I sketched. My goal has always been to find Orlando's true dive bars and I have to live with some smoke to get some of these sketches on location. My clothes had a good washing when I got home.

The space reminded me of the strangely sinister pool room Vincent Van Gogh painted in the south of France as he slowly lost his mind. At the time of this sketch I was contemplating separation and a few weeks later I had left. It is almost two years since I left and the divorce is still held up as the value of my art work is being argued. Most of my sketches are in hard bound sketchbooks which are impossible to sell since there is another sketch on the back of each page.

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, April 16, 2018

Lauren Jane in Blue Box 11

27 Blue Boxes are painted on sidewalks in Downtown Orlando. These boxes are for panhandlers and buskers. Busking is now possible day and night in these blue boxes. Although set up for panhandlers, police have insisted street performers must use the blue boxes. Artists are labeled as performers by this city law. Performing outside the boxes can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

I am working towards  scheduling 27 sketch opportunities in which performers utilize these Blue Boxes. I am about half way through the project. These Boxes represent the only places downtown where there is theoretically freedom of speech. This group page is set up to organize the systematic documentation of these 27 Boxes using sketches and articles about what results.

Lauren Jane is a talented local visual artist in Orlando. Her representational work is large and bold. She decided to sketch me as I sketched her. The legs of her easel fit neatly in the blue box but one leg jutted just outside the confines of the box. If a police officer wanted to cite her on a technicality that inch might have been interpreted as blocking the flow of traffic on the sidewalk. This blue box is right near the downtown post office. You might think there wold be a greater flow of foot traffic justified by people going to the post office to get stamps. I think I am one of the few antiquated individuals who still sends bills via the mail.

Jane and I settled in to our task at hand. Very few people wandered by or even noticed that she was creating art. Lauren has started a business called Lauren Jane Inc. that teaches artists how to show, promote and sell their art. She has a free art biz blueprint book for anyone who joins her Art Biz Secrets Facebook Group. Secrets offered include: -How to Sell your art - How to Get in shows - Learn what other artists are doing... what works and what doesn’t - Learn how to talk about your art - Join a close community of like minded artists who want to see each other thrive, in art Creations and Sales. It is all advice I desperately need. I am doing expense reports for 2017 and some months did not generate enough income to justify my staying in Orlando. I love creating, but sales don't justify all the commitment to this city's arts community.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Josephine: a Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play Rehearsal

Josephine: a Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play is a one-woman musical biographical play about the iconic Josephine Baker. Created by Tymisha Harris, Michael Marinaccio and Tod Kimbro. Book and Musical Direction by Tod Kimbro, performed by Tymisha Harris. Directed and Produced by Michael Marinaccio

I went to a rehearsal just prior to the Fab Fringe 2018 Fundraiser to be held at the Plaza Live (425 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803) on March 5th. Josephine, combines cabaret, theatre, and dance to tell the story of the iconic Josephine Baker, the first African-American international superstar and one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century. Josephine shatters stereotypes of race, gender roles, and sexuality in this intimate, charming and haunting cabaret with a twist. Born in St. Louis in 1906, Josephine Baker achieved only moderate success in the United States but became an international superstar after moving to France in the early 20s. She starred alongside white romantic leading men in films in the 30s, had multiple interracial marriages and homosexual relationships, and performed in men's clothing before the term "drag" existed in the lexicon. Her adopted country of France gave her the opportunity to live freely without the racial oppression of her home nation, though she never stopped yearning for acceptance in America.

The rehearsal was in a small Orlando bungalow just south of Greenwood Cemetery. The band squeezed into the small  living room. There were drums, a guitar, Todd on Piano, a violinist and bass along with an accordion. The conversations between sets offered plenty of saucy humor and the show itself offered the same. I don't believe I saw the entire run through so I will not venture a review. But I could tell this was going to be a very fun musical review with a serious message.

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, April 14, 2018

Little Shop of Horrors in Eustis

Clandestine Arts in conjunction with the Bay Street Players presents the hilariously kooky musical favorite, "Little Shop of Horrors" as part of the State Theatre Studio Series. Derek Critzer produced and directed the show while also taking the lead role. This was a herculean task and he pulled it off. Pam Schwartz and I rushed up to The Historic State Theater (109 N Bay St, Eustis, Florida 32726) after I had taught my weekend Urban Sketching class. We negotiated our way into seats in the very back row feeling our way in the dark. We had missed some of the first act, but I was intent on getting a sketch. The soundtrack to the musical Little Shop of Horrors with music by Howard Ashman and lyrics by Alan Mencken got me through some rough times as I struggled to survive as an artist in NYC. I always felt I was trying to escape from skid row. As an artist you are always trying to make magic happen on a shoe-string budget.

When we arrived Audrey (Savannah Pedersen) was on a date with Orin Scrivello the dentist (Robb Ross). His maniacal laughing was unnerving and abrasive. As he suffocated in his laughing gas helmet I felt claustrophobic for him. Could he get enough air in that fish bowl of a helmet? Seymour Krelborn (Derek Critzer) who raised the mysterious plant gets the girl but needs to feed the plants insatiable appetite for blood in his hope to keep her. The meek, plant shop apprentice is thrown into the public eye.

The voice of the plant (Eduardo Rivera) was silky and enticing. One trumpet player in the live orchestra kept blatting out his notes and some voices in the cast seemed worn. In some ways this was fitting for the urban grunge aesthetic, but the 3 woman chorus (Camila Camilo, Nyeshia Smith, and  Felichia Chivaughn Wright) was on point doing a stellar job.

Overall this was a fun day of theater, well worth the drive. 
Remaining show dates are today and tomorrow, 
Tickets are $21 

Saturday April 14, 2018
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Sunday April 15, 2018
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

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, April 13, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for April 14th and 15th

Saturday April 14, 2018
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Free. Curry Ford Community Bike and Pedestrian Safety Fair. 2850 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806. Curry Ford Road is undergoing a temporary transformation to make the corridor safer and more accommodating for all modes of travel. This includes a reduction in travel lanes and the addition of bicycle lanes and mid-block pedestrian crossings. This community event will focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety by providing demonstrations, interactive drills, helmet fittings, and giveaways. Walk or ride your bike to the free event.

4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Free. Young Voices. J.B. Callaman Center 102 North Parramore Ave Orlando FL.
Teen Open Mic Every second Saturday of the month.

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free. Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Mozart and Dvorak. Saint Luke's Lutheran Church (2021 West SR 426 Oviedo FL. Benjamin Hochman, Pianist and guest Conductor.

Sunday April 15, 2018
10 a.m. 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 to3 p.m. Donation based. Music at the Casa. Flamenco Guitarist Omar Miguel. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Members of the public are invited to visit our historic home museum to listen to live music and take a tour of our historic home museum and the James Gamble Rogers II Studio by trained docents.

10 p.m. to midnight. Free but get some coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out and 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, April 12, 2018

The Luckiest People at the Shakes

The Luckiest People written by Meridith Friedman will rip your heart out. Oscar Hoffman (J.D.Sutton) and his son Richard (David Lane) enter Oscar's retirement in an assisted living facility along with David's partner David (Alexander Mrazek.) David is carrying what I presumed to be ashes. They had just returned from a funeral burring Oscar's wife. Oscar finds himself alone in the world and he is cantankerous and angry. Richard is blindsided when his father demands to leave his assisted living facility.

With his sister Laura (Suzanne O'Donnell) living in Shanghai, and his plans to soon to become a first time father with his partner, he is less than thrilled at the prospect of housing his–to put it mildly–difficult father. Accusations begin to fly and defenses are drawn, spiraling father and son, brother and sister, and spouses into a heated game of finger pointing with unintended consequences.

When Richard has second thoughts about adopting a child with his partner, their relationship is strained to the point of breaking. David knows he wants to raise a child but suddenly Richard is faced with having to possibly care for his father. He also discovers that his sister Laura is planning to meet an old boy friend behind her husband's back. She yearns to be with someone who knew her before life set so many demands on her. This contemporary and wryly humorous play touchingly explores the middle years of life when competing priorities from children, spouses, and parents create challenges and self-examination.

I laughed, I cried, I sketched. Seemingly comedic at first, the play delved deep into this family's relationships, demands, and blunt trauma.  The injuries of childhood surface and the injustice of being treated like a child as an elder become a driving theme. "You are lucky to have somewhere to runaway to. Someone to run to." Everyone had hidden scars and no one seemed particularly lucky to me. This is the first play in a trilogy about the Hoffman family.

The Luckiest People runs approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.
Tickets are $25 to $50
John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center 812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803
The remaining show dates are:

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, April 13, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 14, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 15, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, April 20, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 21, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, April 27, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 28, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 29, 2018 - 2:00 PM

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, April 11, 2018

NOT GUILTY verdict for Noor Salman

On the third day of deliberations the jury in the trial of Noor Salman announced that they had a verdict. The media was alerted by the court with an e-mail. It said, "Judge Byron's Chambers has just notified us that the jury has reached its verdict. The verdict will be published in open court in approximately 30 minutes. If you want to hear the verdict you must be in either Courtroom 4B (if you have a red media ticket) or in Courtroom 3A." I asked the court's media relations officer if I could get into courtroom 4B this one last time for the announcement. She agreed and I was given a blue ticket at the last moment when she was sure the room was not full, which allowed me to enter as a member of the public. I settled in quickly, put on my binocular glasses and focused only on Noor and her attorneys as the jury entered.

The verdict was handed to a clerk of the court and she read each count. The room grew silent. Noor listened with her hand to her mouth and tears in her eyes. She was found not guilty of obstruction of justice, and not guilty of aiding and abetting her husband in his plans to murder 49 people inside the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. She broke down and sobbed when she realized she had been cleared of all charges. Her uncle and a cousin seated two rows behind her also cried when they heard the news. They huddled together hugging as they sobbed. My side of the courtroom had victims' families and survivors who were eerily silent and stone-faced. It was all over in a matter of 5 minutes. I only had enough time to scratch out the gesture of the attorney Fritz Scheller comforting Noor. I rushed back to my studio a few blocks away to finish up the sketch. I was one of the first people to exit the courtroom. The phalanx of TV cameras were waiting to hear the verdict first hand.

"Noor can go home now to her son, resume her life and try to pick up the pieces from two years in jail," The family spokeswoman Susan Clary said, adding that the relatives were grateful for the verdict. Salman's relatives and Clary said they were sorry for the victims and survivors. Defense attorney Linda Moreno also expressed admiration for the victims' families and survivors.
"We're very grateful to this jury and to the Orlando community," she said. "Maybe this was the only community that could do this."

The jury foremen felt the need to contact the media to explain the verdict that had been reached. “As foreperson of the jury in the Noor Salman trial I felt it important that I present a juror’s perspective of the verdicts. I am giving you my perspective, and not speaking for the entire jury. My initial inclination was not to communicate with the news media at all, however once I returned home and watched the news coverage of the reactions to the verdicts I felt compelled to at least clarify several misconceptions.

First, I want to express my deepest sympathy to family and friends of the victims of this senseless tragedy. I understand the desire to hold someone accountable for this heinous act of violence. Omar Mateen is dead. He cannot be punished. It is only logical the world would look next to Noor Salman.
These past few days have been very difficult. We listened carefully to opening arguments, testimonies from both prosecution and defense witnesses, viewed many exhibits and heard closing statements. We received many pages of documentation from the court outlining very specific instructions related to the charges and how we should apply the law. We used these detailed instructions, our courtroom notes, and all evidence presented by both sides in our deliberations.

Having said that, I want to make several things very clear. A verdict of not guilty did NOT mean that we thought Noor Salman was unaware of what Omar Mateen was planning to do. On the contrary we were convinced she did know. She may not have known what day, or what location, but she knew. However, we were not tasked with deciding if she was aware of a potential attack. The charges were aiding and abetting and obstruction of justice. I felt that both the prosecution and the defense did an excellent job presenting their case. I wish that the FBI had recorded their interviews with Ms. Salman as there were several significant inconsistencies with the written summaries of her statements. The bottom line is that, based on the letter of the law, and the detailed instructions provided by the court, we were presented with no option but to return a verdict of not guilty.”

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, April 10, 2018

Day 2 Waiting for a Verdict in the Noor Salman Trial

I arrived at the Orlando Federal Courthouse bright and early and decided to sketch the TV News cameras set up outside waiting for the verdict in the Noor Salman trial. It felt good to sketch outside after being cooped up in court for a solid month. The phalanx grew as I sketched and then a tripod was set up with all the microphones waiting for an announcement. A few reporters were curious about what I was doing and were pleased to see themselves in sketch form. I was hoping that the jury would be deliberating for a few more hours so that I had plenty of time to sketch. With the sketch complete I decided to get inside to continue waiting. Shoes and belt came off as I went through the security metal detectors. I usually don't redress since there is a second security check at the courtroom entrance, but I was heading up to the media room today to wait.

The media room has a refrigerator, microwave and a sink, so it is quite civilized. Several reporters had ordered bagels. The channel 9 reporter across from me Ken Tyndall showed me a sketch that had been done of him by a Saint Augustine artist. It depicted him as a bad ass pirate. On top of that I knew the hand of the artist. It was done by Orlando artist KC Cali. I told him the artists name, but it didn't seem to register.

A female reporter with immense eyelashes and plenty of mascara sat next to me. Her laptop was covered with stickers. One said something about Jihad. I was the outsider in the room, so I assumed she had been coming to this media room throughout the trial. This sketch was pretty far along, so I couldn't place her in the scene. Her head would have been about where the bagel is and that is the center of interest. Ken Tyndall shot a cell phone photo of her and the laptop and sent it to other reporters in the courthouse.

The previous evening I had received a e-mail from the court saying that a member of the media had been banned from the courthouse for harassing members of Noor Salman's family as they walked to their cars. As she said, "When I confronted her family outside the courthouse and asked them if “Jihad” is an act of terrorism, they REFUSED to answer!" To me these actions read as bigotry masked as journalism. The media were reminded that interviews must be conducted in specific designated locations. It turned out that this was the blogger who had been evicted from court and she returned anyway the next day. The photo tipped off security and soon a US Marshall entered the media room and asked the woman seated next to me to "Come with me."

She was escorted downstairs and back outside the courtroom. A second hand report claims that she wanted to shoot cell phone footage as she was being escorted out but the US Marshall took her phone until she was back outside. The same Marshall had confiscated a sketch I started of the courthouse lobby. My sketch showed the entry security system so I fully understood his concerns and gave him the unfinished sketches after I signed it. The female blogger stood outside the courthouse all afternoon shooting cell phone footage she posed online demanding her first amendment rights had been violated. I have to agree with the judges ruling that these rights do not include harassing family of the person on trial. She claimed that the media looked down on her by referring to her as a blogger. Personally I am proud to be a blogger. It allows me to freedom to report on this trial visually in a way that no other media outlet can match. The tight court rules were restrictive, but I worked within those restrictions to report during the entire length of the trial.

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, April 9, 2018

Waiting for the Verdict in the Noor Salan Trial.

The prosecution and defense had finished their closing statements in the Noor Salman trial before lunch. Judge Paul G. Byron send the jury to deliberate when everyone got back from lunch. I wrote an article at my apartment figuring it was safe to be away from the court house for a while. All afternoon the jury discussed the case and the media waited in the designated media room. Since the courtrooms were closed up, I had to wait in the media room as well. This was my first time in the room since I  hadn't really needed to use it during the trial. When I had wanted to write an article, I simply walked back to my downtown apartment. Now however I couldn't leave. The jury could reach a verdict at any time. Several times the jury asked to see more evidence. When that would happen, the media would rush to the courtroom and Judge Byron would provide what her could to the jury. When I returned from my apartment, I got through the security for one of these evidence requests, I was just about to sit down and it was over. I hadn't gotten my belt or shoes back on yet from the security check. The jury went back to deliberate.

Walking to the media room I ran into a reporter from CNN who wanted to buy some of my courtroom sketches for broadcast.  On the very first day of the trail, at 7:30 a.m., I stood at the entrance of the courthouse with Dan, a CNN reporter waiting for the doors to open. We discussed the case and I told him of my trials and tribulations of not being able to get into courtroom 4B. I suspect he put in a good word for me. My work apparently is to expensive to be used by Orlando news stations, but CNN knew they were getting what they paid for. These would be my only sales during the course of this month long trial. Otherwise, I was a volunteer citizen reporter with a sketchbook.

Sequestered away in the media room, we all wondered if the jury would be able  to reach a verdict on this first afternoon of deliberations. With over 64 bits of evidence and testimony to consider, that seemed unlikely to me. Reporters leaned into their laptops typing their copy for the day. I stood and drew them at work for the first time. Some reporters were in the hallway recording audio for broadcast. An intern was helping a radio reporter by reading some of the report into a microphone. He didn't finish every task on point, but she was grateful for the help. Some reporters had been here since the beginning, following every nuance of the trial. Other reporters had been sent her at the last minute to be on hand to report the verdict only. I identified with certain reporters from Channel 9 News who felt a sense of ownership of the case, feeling it was best reported by locals who were most effected by the tragedy itself. Being in the media overflow courtroom with then each day I got to hear their opinions about how the trial was progressing.

Five o'clock approached and we all thought the jury might pull in a last minute verdict. It was past most reporters deadlines for the day's report on the evening news. We were told that the jury might want to stay and order in food to deliberate late into the evening. If a reporter left to get dinner, they wouldn't be able to get back into the court house for security reasons. Most security officers would go home for the night.  I was told that if the jury had decided to stay late, then a verdict was very close, but if Judge Byron insisted they they continue to deliberate then they were not close. I am not sure which was the case. While some reporters were scrambling to make take out orders, a court officer  entered the media room again and said that the jury had changed it's mind. They were going home for the day. The jury deliberation would continue starting at 9 a.m. the next morning.

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, April 8, 2018

Closing Statements in the Noor Salman Trial

There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

 The court day began with Judge Paul G. Byron wanting to get a confirmation from Noor Salman that she did not want to testify in court. She spoke for the first time with a quiet "No." Sarah Sweeney presented the prosecution's closing statements. She would go through the several hundred items of evidence and use that to prove what Salman knew and what she did leading up to the attack. She said that everything Salman did was a green light for her husband to attack. Exhibits 1-99 covered Noor Salman's written statements and evidence from her apartment. Exhibits 100-199 revolved around Pulse and the exhibits from 200 and up involved banking and spending.

The first part of the prosecution's case involved proving obstruction of justice. She pointed out that Noor gave misleading information to Lieutenant William Hall, Agent Christopher Mayo, Agent T.J. Sypniewski, and Agent Ricardo Enriquez. She gave false statements and partial statements tat were intended to obscure the full truth. She claimed that Omar Mateen disconnected Facebook in 2013 and yet she communicated with him via Facebook in 2014. She claimed that her husband didn't use the Internet in their apartment. She claimed that her husband was moderate, but an ISIS flag was found in the apartment and he had videos of be-headings on his computer. Mateen left their apartment on June 11, 2016 with a firearm but she claimed he only had one gun. Yet she knew there was a riffle case in their car since she wanted it removed before she took her drivers test. She lied twice saying he was at dinner with Nemo on June11, 2016. The broadest lie was that she didn't know he was going to plan a terrorist attack.

Sweeney changed tack from everything said during the course of the trial saying that the target of the attack that night was NOT the Pulse Nightclub but rather Disney Springs. She also claimed that Noor knew the target was Disney. That would explain Noor's odd comment when Lieutenant William Hall asked her to leave her apartment for questioning. She said, "Are they going to bring me to Disney?" Sweeney also claimed that Noor was confused during questioning and thought that Pulse was at Disney. When Noor could not reach her husband on the night of June11, 2016, she knew that he had committed the attack.

The couples finances consisted of an average monthly credit card bill of $1500. But From June 5 to 15, 2016 the couple spent $26,000. There were gaps in Mateen's Internet browsing activity between 2:09a.m. and 9a.m. in which he might have shown his wife his intended target although it might not have been Pulse. Google history ended on his computer on June 10, 2016 and started again on June 12, 2016 with his search for Eve. 

Proving aiding and abetting was the prosecution's biggest challenge. They needed to show that Noor provided material support to ISIS.  Showing Omar's material support was easy. Sweeney showed a still from the Pulse surveillance camera that showed Omar shooting people at point blank range. But did Noor provide the same support as she slept at home?

The defense closing arguments by Charles Swift brought up some new points in Noor's defense. A baby carriage and doll were found by Omar Mateen's rental van parked near Pulse. But his son is too old for such a carriage. The new theory was that Omar intended to use the baby carriage to transport his rifle into Disney Springs without raising suspicion. If that were the case and Noor was an accomplice, wouldn't it make more sense to have her push the baby carriage? Was she a victim or accomplice? Swift argued Mateen had no reason to involve his wife in his plan to carry out mass murder June 12, 2016. “Why would he tell her?” he said. “I cannot think of an earthly reason for it. I cannot think of one. What could she help him with?”

The defense acknowledged the heartbreaking grief of the community but reminded the jury to look at all the facts. Defense attorney Lisa Morino reminded the jury that Noor simply struggled educationally. She painted a picture of her as a simple housewife who loved her child and was more concerned with reading romance novels that in world politics.That she could not accept money for baby sitting a friends child. Pulse she stressed was a random target. "Where are all the girls at?" Omar asked the Pulse security, meaning he didn't know where he was. Omar didn't respect his wife. Why would he confide in her? She was dependent on him not the other way around. If he didn't know what his target was that night, how could she know? The dead have been given the truth in this trial. The tragedy shouldn't be pinned on Noor. The true terrorist was already killed by police on the evening of the attack. "Don't makeNoor Salman the last victim of Omar Mateen." Swift concluded.

After closing statements, Judge Byron read the 57 pages of jury instructions. Basically they had to decide on two counts. One was obstruction of justice and the other was aiding and abetting.
The jury instructions said convicting Salman “Requires proof that (she was) intentionally associated with or participated in the crime, not just proof that (she) was simply present at the scene of a crime or knew about it." The help can be just about anything including, “financial services, lodging, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities and weapons." If convicted, Noor could face life in prison.

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, April 7, 2018

Transition: An Original Docudrama

Transition is an original docudrama directed by the Valencia College Theater program chair John DiDonna. The show explores the lives, concerns and obstacles facing those in and through a period of gender transition. It was created through interviews with members of the transgender community.

The show started off the entire cast entering the black box theater telling tales of Greek myths. The pace was hurried with members of the cast obsessionally talking over one another. Then the cast settled in and we were allowed to meet each in turn as they discussed their lives. For some, gender was fluid, not as sharply defined as the blue and pink world that delineates boys and girls from childhood on.

A relationship developed between a woman who fell in love with a man who was transitioning into womanhood. He pushed her away feeling she was naive, but she persisted and she was with him through his entire transition. The important theme throughout was that we should all be accepting and love one another.

The word SEX was boldly projected on the screen. The entire case suddenly grew quiet and uncomfortable. It was a comic moment that grew as the moment lengthened. One cat member walked the runway out into the audience dressed in his khaki shorts, a t shirt and open dress shirt. He must have once been female, but I couldn't tell. He glanced at the word and looked back out at the audience and finally said "heel no." and walked back to the cast.

By the end of the show the cast held one another as each in turn asked for  understanding as they moved forward with their lives. Shots of estrogen or testosterone defined their gradual transformations. Skin grew smoother or voices changed pitch. Each wanted what we all want, acceptance and love. This was a unique evening of beautiful people sharing their stories.

The remaining show dates are:
April 7, 9 13 and 14, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
April 8 and 15, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.
The performance on April 14 will have an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.
$12 General Admission
$10 Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Seniors.
Save with you-pick packages. Mix and match any dance and theater performance.
Four tickets for $36 or eight for $60.
Valencia College East Campus, Black Box Theater
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail Orlando Fl 32825

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