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Embracing The Melancholy Of February.

February can be a tricky month. Usually one of the coldest in these parts where I reside, it can also be very unpredictable. So far this February it hasn’t been as bad as what we’re used to here. We’ve had a few average days, as in the single digits, but not many.

This February has been typical in another way though, it’s been mostly dreary and gray, and unquestionably somber. At least if you happen to live in Upstate NY. I was recently told about an article where the author, citing the crappy weather, the failing infrastructure, the abysmal employment rate and various and sundry other legitimately accurate reasons, made a case that all of us, everyone, “should leave.” That we should “get out asap”. And to depart to… “anywhere”. “Anywhere would be better”. And honestly it’s hard to argue with this fairly reasonable viewpoint.

Here’s the thing though. There are just as many legit reasons not to leave. We’re surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery and countryside in the state. Most people here, often like any other place, where gossip, anger, and lets face it, all kinds of nasty politics abound, are also kind, and there for you when you really need them.

And then there’s the whole apocalypse situation. If there is one thing that can be said for those of us who have survived Upstate and all the inherent obstacles, we’re tough. If the electric goes out, we pull out the candles and blankets, if the snow is four feet deep, we still go to work. Apocalypse, schmocaplypse, piece of cake. There have also been theories that living here will be the best bet when (laugh to keep from crying), it happens.

Whether true or not, (and of course no one wants to test that theory), it’s a good one to throw out there when the discourse turns to what a shite place to live this is. It’s also somewhat curious that these same people who point out the down side of living here, are the same ones, who come here for some of the most spectacular leaf peeping there is. Or to ply the countless streams, and other waterways with their top of the line kayaks, enjoying the vistas, and the fresh air.

Yes winter here can be brutal, nevertheless it can also be stunningly beautiful. Something those who live here can take for granted. So it’s a good thing to remember this, and get out and enjoy it. Even on the bleakest days, it can be invigorating. If nothing else, it’ll leave you so exhausted from slogging through the snow, and wet, that you’ll sleep really well. (Unless like me, you have anxiety and tend to lie awake questioning your existence).

Thankfully there are the other three seasons to break up the year. Spring, my personal favorite, brings all new life, and the promise of sunshine and warmth (that is if it arrives, and winter doesn’t skip directly to ninety degree weather). Summer brings the freedom from layers of clothes, boots, and bone chilling days, (and often the life sucking kind of humidity and heat that lesser mortals eschew). Then if and when Autumn arrives, (and summer doesn’t burn directly into a wet cold early winter) it gets us set for those colder days, and by then we’re usually ready and looking forward to wearing our sweaters, and scarves.

The problem with February is, that we’re sick of the cold, and the layers, so it feels longer. Then March is an even bigger trickster. This is because for some reason we tend to feel like it should mean that the cold weather is finally done, and usually that’s March’s lie. But if you took the weather of March, and put it in the middle of January, or February, we would be running around in shorts extolling how great it is out. (Unless you’re used to tropical weather, like some people I know, and anything under sixty eight degrees is torture.) It’s all a matter of perspective.

February is the month when it would be nice to be hibernating. It feels as if that is exactly what we should be doing, like a throwback to neanderthal days. Why fight it? Unfortunately few of us have that option.

I guess I’m using this as an excuse for my own recent lethargy. Maintaining the working position that supports myself and family, seems to take all the energy I have. After which, being creative, painting, or writing sometimes feels like an insurmountable mountain. But perhaps these changes in season are here to make us feel exactly this way. To make us step back, breath, dive deep into morose thoughts, and of questioning what’s next. To make us move on to that next stratum. The next strategy that presents itself to us. It’s worked before. And Spring is right around the corner, hopefully.

I hope everyone is thinking deep, morose and questioning thoughts to ready themselves for the next season. Thanks for stopping by, see you next time!

Some Color For January; A Sneak Peak Of Something For A Good Cause

First just a quick note: { I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but through an error, my beautiful front page and other banners, were somehow deleted. I think it was something I had done unwittingly. My daughter had done the lovely design set up, so I am upset over this. She assures me that she can fix it, so although I hate to have to have her redo it all, I am very grateful that she is willing and able to do so. Hopefully they will be restored by the time I publish my next post. 🙂 }

Most everyone must know about the horrific wildfires in Australia, and the devastating effects they have had on the land and tragically on the animals there. It is a very hard thing to write about, but for those there, I can’t even image how it must be.

I haven’t been able to get it off my mind that I would like to help in some meaningful way. Originally, I had planned to offer half of the proceeds from my works that are currently available, to this cause, which I will probably still do.

However, after speaking with my brother who has lived in Australia for forty plus years, he suggested I do some art of the affected wildlife. I thought about it for a while, and an idea came to me that I have begun working on. Rather than do a completely realistic version of some of the koalas, kangaroos, wombats, quokka’s and others, the picture that came to my mind was more of a fantasy, graphic style. I did a preliminary painting, and since have started a slightly different adaptation that I am going with.

I will be offering all of the proceeds except for shipping costs, from this particular painting to the cause for saving, and caring for these priceless creatures, and toward reestablishing their habitat. I believe that although it will take time, it will happen.

There will be a limited number of copies, in a few different sizes. There are a few wildlife rescue services, I believe the most well known, and largest is WIRES, NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. Once the painting is finished I’ll contact them and/or others to make arrangements for the donations. My hope is that if enough people see this and pass it on, there may be enough to help as many of these precious animals as possible with this limited edition painting, and the others on my site as well.

I’ll post the painting as soon as I can. I hope everyone likes it, passes it on to as many other people as possible, and maybe gets one to enjoy and to help. See you next time!

Owning My First Music

Hello to all, and I hope you’re enjoying being in the thick of the holiday season, and if not, I hope your December is going as well as can be expected. I know in my last post I spoke about a project that I hope to complete before March of next year. My intention is to follow up on this as is possible.

For now, having recently awoken with an old memory about my experience as a child discovering music, I thought I’d write about that. This is not to say that I hadn’t had music in my life, having grown up with fairly young parents who introduced us to people like Johnny Cash, (loved “Ring of Fire”), and also country western. Which is nothing like what is out there today. It was more of an Appalachian style, with undertones of the mournful west, and lonesome cowboys, etc. . Songs like “Down in The Valley”, and “Red River Valley”. There was also Buddy Holly, and things like the twist, that my mother taught us. That and swing dancing. However, these were all things that were more or less coming from the adults point of view around us. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. But this post is about an unusual, dare I say odd encounter I had, literally finding my own personal tastes.

When I was nine years old, in nice weather, my brother and I would walk home from school. Not to be cliche’ but, it really was more than a mile from home. We went to St. Teresa of Avila parochial school, in Albany New York. The walk home took us from Elm St. (which at that time still had beautiful, majestic elms, before the blight), then downward toward a long street named South Manning Boulevard. This street continued most of the distance toward home, where we would then ascend a hill, then around the streets until we come to our own street, Crestwood Ct. So basically, South Manning Blvd. was a valley.

I hated walking home, not only was it at the end of a tiring day at school, but my feet always hurt. Along with my school uniform, which at that time was a brown one piece, with a shirt underneath, there was a sweater to match. So it was usually too hot. To top it off, there were knee high’s, which most of the time, would slip down, and I’d have to stop every few minutes to pull them up. The worst part was that, at the time, saddle shoes had come back into fashion. When my mom first brought me to get them, I thought they were OK. Here’s the thing though, back then, they were hard as a rock. Also, my parents wouldn’t get us new shoes until our feet were literally becoming a deformed mass. Often by the time I got home, my blistered feet, had bloodied my socks. (I swear, I’m not being dramatic.)

On this one particular day I dawdled behind my older brother. (At least I think he was there, but to be honest, I don’t remember him being there.) He may have gotten impatient, and run ahead, leaving me to die alone in the scorching heat.

The sun was beating down, I had my sweater wrapped around my waist, and I was sure I was hallucinating, (like in the movies where someone lost in the desert would start to see things that weren’t there,) when I saw them. Now South Manning Blvd. was actually two streets divided by a large swath of grass, or meridian, which flowed in opposite directions. We were supposed to stay on the sidewalks that flanked the streets. However we would often cut across, meandering along the grass, which although out in the open unprotected from the sun, or from flying objects from passing cars, was somewhat easier to walk on.

While contemplating my demise, I saw, strewn a long distance along the meridian, what appeared to be flat black rocks. Apparently it was an apparition, as my brother, (who was possibly there), had completely ignored this in his quest to get home. As I got closer, I realized that I wasn’t seeing things and that there really was something all over the grass. Stooping down, I realized that these were 45’s. For those unfamiliar, they were the smaller sized version of vinyl records, that had a large hole in the middle. Now yes, I did have a record player, (look it up). One that I played things that were probably close to what my daughter’s had in the 90’s, like “Barbie World” on cassettes. (A cassette by the way that was played so often that it somehow “vanished” to the delight of the adults in the house.)

I toed one of the records, to see what it said on it. I looked around. There was little traffic, and no one else in sight. I came to the conclusion that some of the annoying teenagers who lived in the area, must have tossed them out of their car as they woo-hooed down the street. South Manning Blvd. was also the street where “all the rich houses were”. You would think a great place to trick or treat, but sadly, no. Most were pretty stingy. Anyway, I figured my conclusion was about right.

Picking one up, I saw that it was a record by Neil Diamond. I had never heard of him. It was called, “Holly Holy”. Humph, I wondered, religious crap. (I tended to be a skeptic.) As I stood there sweating and dripping blood into my shoes, I decided to grab some, and stuffed them into my school bag. (No backpacks then.) Also having had “right and wrong” drilled into my head, and being a Catholic, I was born with guilt and impending doom lurking at all times, so part of me felt like I shouldn’t take them, and another part was more practical. The records were beginning to warp in the heat. I decided I’d take some of them, and leave the rest in case the wild teenagers came back, or to at least leave some for other scavengers. I was thoughtful that way.

With my ill gotten pirate booty safely ensconced in my shoulder bag, I had a little more pep in my step, and if not skipped, at least didn’t do my usual trudge home.

I can’t recall how I told my mother about the records but I wasn’t drawn and quartered, and I was allowed to keep them. I’m pretty sure my mother thought it was funny. That smile would be wiped off of her face, when I would then proceed to play these records, on nausea-um for weeks, or maybe it was months to come.

Another of the records, had a song called “Venus” on it. It was by a band called “Bananarama”. “Bananarama!” This was a whole new world opening up. It was a toss up which was my favorite. Many years later, it became a jingle on a commercial, which ruined the magic of it, especially as it was a poorly done cover, ah well . But at the time, when I found it, I couldn’t get enough of it. There were also a few Beatles songs as well. Now at this time, I had never heard of them, (I was nine). I was to be properly introduced to them fairly soon however, in two ways.

Our house was what today might be considered a “tiny house”. It was what was then called a Levittown house after what I presume is the name of the man who designed them. Every other house on our street was the same. They were all built on slabs, no basements. These houses were built after the war. I have no idea which war. We lived in a small enclave of these houses, built on what we were to find out years later, had been a dump. We were surrounded by much nicer homes. But it was clean and ours.

One could enter through the front door, but most often we came in the side door. This led into a small entry, and then into an equally small kitchen, decorated in the latest olive colored appliances, and large 60’s style flowered wall paper. That led to the dining/living room area. Through a door to the left was a slatted door that covered the water heater, ( a constant source of concern to my dad), and then there was the bathroom.

Also in this little hall area, was my brother’s room. My father had painted it in a bold orange, and brown, and had built in a low seating area with storage. (He loved “Popular Mechanics). He had also commandeered one side of my brother’s closet to use for his dark room, as he was an avid amateur photographer . He had attached a thick rubber cover thing to it, and would stand under it to develop his photos, the pungent smell of the developing chemicals seeping into the room. To the right was a hall that led to my room and then to my parent’s room. So there was little space to get away from each other, much less loud repetitive music. Or music that was loathed. There was a show that my father loved, and felt that we should too. It was called “The Earl Pudney Hour”. We had a black and white TV then, and the show was filmed in a studio against a white wall. Thus creating creepy shadows to go along with what I considered the worst music ever. They were a “jazz” band. The TV had bad acoustics, and that along with the bad, boring filming of it, was not conducive to making me a fan. I hated it. But every week my dad would try to convince me that it was fantastic.

In regard to my repetitive playing of my found treasure, I have to say, that my mother had infinite patience. Either that, or she just didn’t care, and had her own problems. It was around this time, that the Beatles were showcased on the Ed Sullivan show. This show came on very late at night, so we were not normally allowed to watch it. Our couch was on the wall facing away from the hall. My brother and I would often sneak out of bed, and think that we were “hiding” behind it and watch. The night that the Beatles came on, my dad suddenly said; “OK, come on out, you’re gonna watch it anyway.” Thus I was introduced to the Beatles. After seeing them, I decide I liked them, a lot. But I was still just a kid, and had a lot of other more important things going on, like following my brother around. So seeing them was fun, but it didn’t have that big of an impact on me. That is until my tenth birthday.

That same year my mother decided that I should have a more grown up birthday, and have real music, dancing, and boys over. She also invited our neighbors daughter who was sort of my friend, and as her big sister was home from college, she came over too. This annoyed me a little as my brother had a major crush on her, and this was just sickening. But she was cool, and introduced us to all the latest dances, which turned out to be a lot of fun. She also brought over Beatles albums. She couldn’t believe that we had only just started listening to them. A few months later she ran away to New York City. My brother was crushed, and I being a naive Catholic kid, couldn’t really understand why on earth she would do that.

It would only be a few years later that due to tragedy, and having to grow up fast, that I did understand. I also became something of a music elitist. I no longer listened to Neil Diamond, considering him to be something “old people listened to”. By this time I had very strong convictions about the music I listened to, CCR, Procol Harem, Judy Collins, Carol King, etc.

I’ve lived a lot of lives since the time I found those 45’s. But through it all, I’ve never forgotten finding them, or how it was one of the catalysts to my growing up. And sometimes, when one of those obscure songs comes on, I still remember all the words, and finding the music on my torturous walk home, so long ago

Reading through this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I could have added some more sketches. So eventually I may do that and then re-post it. For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this little slice of my life, see you next time!

Preliminary Sketches For…?

A few months back, I decided that I would like to participate as an artist at a Comic Con that takes place a few hours from where I am. It’s usually around March. In order to do this, I will need to have enough art pieces in various sizes to warrant paying the price of the booth area. After taking some time away from drawing, I did feel somewhat refreshed, and thought that this goal might be a good place to jump back into the “paint” so to speak. I decided to go with a favorite super hero of mine, The Flash. (I do have a few other art works almost ready for this Con, but that’s another blog.) Not being an official expert on The Flash, I of course have to go with what I am into. And that happens to be the most recent incarnation on TV. I like the characters, the actors, and the overall look of the series. (Everything except the most recent version of The Flash’s outfit. I’m sorry, but good grief. They seriously need to go back to the season four costume). I meander. Anyway I’ve begun by doing some simple preliminary sketches. (With the season four costume).

For the title of this post, I left it a bit ambiguous for the simple fact that, although, I have my subject, I haven’t quite nailed down the exact form I’d like these to take.

I haven’t had an art booth in some time. And have never don a Con. But I’ve been to a few, and I know what I have personally been drawn to.

Personally, I enjoy the whole experience, from the cos players, (sometimes myself included), to the panels, and of course the many related items to purchase.

It’s always interesting to see all of the artists. They are as varied in their art, as in their separate approaches to selling it. Many work as a team with another artist. Some are more approachable than others. There are those who reach out to people wandering around. This can be a good thing or a bad one. If it’s done in an easy going friendly way, it’s usually OK. But of course there are always those venders who just have too much of a desperate vibe. It can be awkward, and is usually a turn off.

But for the most part, I have found the venders to be friendly, interesting and fun. Many of the venders spend their time there, working on more pieces. This is always interesting to see. The artwork ranges from simple to unbelievably detailed and excellent work. But whatever the case, they have put their hearts and energy into it, so it’s important to respect that.

Getting back to the question mark in my title. It also covers the how and how much to charge per item, aspect. Another thing that seems to be a good idea, is to have a few different price point items. I know that whenever I go, I like to get a few small things, sort of as souvenirs. For example I almost always get a few Lego super hero or Star Wars figures. Many times these have been refined or modified by the seller. I also like to get a few small art pieces, or hand done comic books. On occasion there may be something that really catches my eye, and I may be willing to make a bigger purchase.

I’m guessing a lot of people think this way. Unless they are hardcore collectors, most people are there for a good time, and may get a few little things. But It’s also a good place to display your more expensive pieces. People may not be interested or able to get something there and then, but might consider it for a later date, or as a future gift. The question here is, how many, and what kind of small items I should have on hand, as well as larger pieces, some small hand outs, business cards, and maybe some written items that explain my process, or a little about me? People do seem to like to know something about the artists. More importantly, I feel that the venders should be relaxed, and enjoy the venue as well. Those are the ones that I like to talk with. I don’t feel pressured, and neither do they. I’m more likely to purchase something from them as well. But if I don’t that’s cool too.

As a side note, there was a young woman at one of these venues, who had written and self published some comic style books. She was asking a reasonable price. It was late in the day, and the second time we came around and had decided to get one, she gave it to us for free! As fellow artists who know what has to go into this sort of thing, (after our first shocked delight), we just felt that we couldn’t accept that, and insisted that she take payment. See, relaxed and happy, and generous. We practically begged her to take our money!

If you are an artist, writer or musician who is selling your work, here’s hoping someone begs you to take their money!

I hope you enjoyed this post, and see you next time!

Taking A Breather

I’ve taken a bit of a breather, as the title of this so aptly says. After Inktober, and now through some other things in life going on, as well as some overall stagnation, I need some time to think on where my art will lead now. I’m not sure how it is with other people, but I generally find that I need real down time to recharge my creative flow so to speak. And unfortunately my “other” job has been exhausting of late. Today is the first time I’ve done anything somewhat substantial, art wise in a few weeks. I’m posting it here today to show I’m still around, heheh.

Last year my grand daughter learned how to properly walk our dog Kota, who can be a handful. She did a great job, and Kota showed her respect. I’ve done a painting of a moment in that interaction. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next. I do have a few ideas, but need some time to work them out. For now I hope you enjoyed seeing this little painting. See you next time!

Inktober In Review; Week Four, The Final Count Down

Hi to everyone who has been following along, and to those just stopping in, check out the last three parts of this series following my (mis+)adventures in completing an ink drawing a day for Inktober. I’ve enjoyed doing this drawing challenge for three years now, and I’d like to say it gets easier, but I still find it is a “challenge”. If only due to fitting it into my busy life, and trying to think of ideas, as well as the execution of them, often with little time. I have noticed that I do seem to get faster, and feel that my drawings improve as the weeks go by, except for a few here and there when I was truly rushed. In essence this does help me to work better, faster. The actual challenge ends Halloween Day, so for the purpose of writing this post, I’ve finished up, and will show you what I’ve come up this last week. Starting off with the prompt word; “ancient” which I really liked. Below you’ll see what I thought would be a good choice, as well as a style I more or less followed for the rest of this week. I threw in some artistic licence as well as a bit of a graphic look.

Day twenty four had me “reeling” silly pun intended. What do you draw for “dizzy”? I mean I could have gone with the obvious, but I thought about what makes me feel dizzy. Looking up at tall buildings can do that to me. A sort of reverse vertigo. I only had about twenty minutes that day so I kept it simple.

I think I had a bit of a sweet tooth for day twenty five, heheh. Uuummm, yum!

On day twenty six, I had a little more time so attempted to do a kind of silhouette of a night sky with the Milky Way.

The prompt for day twenty seven is tricky. It is simply “coat”. What?! I guess this could be considered either really easy, or “wait, what?”. But it does leave the possibilities fairly wide open. Having not felt rushed or pressured, I just played around with it for a while and felt a sort of cross between a Steampunky and a military parade theme for the coat would of course look great on a giraffe.

And what better “ride” as in day twenty eight, is there than a fun carnival one? (Which btw, I never go on.)

For the artists out there, you may have noticed that some of these could be finished somewhat more. This is all part of the whole Inktober challenge, for me anyway. Often, there just isn’t time, so you have to be able to say, ‘yeah, this is as finished as it’s gonna get.” And that’s OK. It’s great to just be able to draw along. This year I managed to do every day, (and I include the one I shredded-see episode one of this series), because although I decided not to use it, I still put a lot of effort into it. For day twenty nine, “injured” I was in a sort of “Hunger Games”, “The 100” kind of mood. Get up, you can do this!

Anyway, day thirty found me in a more gentle mood, so for the word “catch” I felt this kitty would be a cute idea.

Finishing up for the last day, day thirty one, Happy Halloween! The prompt is “ripe”. I figure that by the time we pick and carve a pumpkin, they’re pretty “ripe”. I almost went for the whole over-ripe thing, making them all rotted and such for Halloween, but then decided to go with this. Let me introduce, Moogle, and Arrgh in, “Moogle and Arrgh see a ghost”. (I did make them a wee squishy).

Wrapping up this mini series on Inktober 2019 I want to say that I am grateful to people like Jake Parker who come up with ideas like this and are kind enough to share them. Inktober has grown to include fantastic artists from all over the world! If you can, take a few minutes to scroll through the literally thousands of pieces of artwork for Inktober on Twitter and Instagram. The many artist’s works are varied and amazing! I have no affiliation to these sites, other than having tagged along, but as an artist, or just anyone who appreciates art, it’s something that shouldn’t be missed! I hope you’ve enjoyed following my attempts to produce an ink drawing a day. See you next time! (I’m not sure, but I may be taking a bit of a break for a few weeks, but who knows!?)

Inktober In Review; Week Three, Of Ghosts And Men.

Due to some time constraints, this post is a little late today, so I’ll jump right in to show you the ink drawings I came up with for this week’s prompt words. As I mentioned in the past two posts, if you’re not familiar with Inktober, please see the first post for October. That being said, here are this week’s drawings beginning with day 16, “Wild”. And of course anyone who has been following along, would know that this is a perfect prompt word for me, being that I am a bit fanatical about elephants being free and wild.

Day 17 is “Ornament”, and I thoroughly enjoyed sketching this little drawing for this prompt!

For day 18’s prompt word, “Misfit”, it took me a while to come up with something, but when I did, I just went with it, and I like how it came out. Black cats, pumpkins…and a duck? Sometimes you have to just go with it. I hope you like it! Pretty cute, huh!?

The prompt for day 19, is “Sling”. When trying to come up with something all I could think of was medical devices. Not wanting to go with that, I procrastinated for a while, but then remembered that there is a form of yoga where people hang from long slings. (And I added a bat for the Halloween vibe).

A silly little sketch for day 20, I got an ellie in there, heheh, and a nod to Halloween.

For day 21, the prompt word is “Treasure”, and of course the most important treasure I can think of, (outside of family and friends), is elephants, and sharing the importance of them in this world. They are a vital link in the chain of life, are intelligent, warm sentient beings who know joy, sorrow, and love. They deserve our protection, and respect.

It is the 22nd, and the prompt word for Inktober today is “Ghost”. Very appropriate to the season. Should be a breeze. So to anyone who has been following along, (and you have, right?!) you know that I hate to do the expected. The problem with this is that it gets harder and harder to do. And the word ghost is no exception.

I’m a huge Supernatural fan, the TV show… anyway, with only a short time to do some sketching, it may not be the greatest representation, but I think I pulled it off, and I’m good with it. That’s what counts, that you’re good with what you create. I hope you enjoyed this week’s post and stop back next time to see what I manage to come up with for the last week of Inktober. See you then!