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Born Out Of Time

Is daydreaming a prerequisite of being an artist? So many I have known, and including myself tend to have this trait to one degree or another. For myself it is a necessary requirement of the job, letting my mind wander, and rest, gives me a clearer vision of what I want to do. As well as takes me on impossible flights of fancy, (which may not always be a good thing, ) but it is essential.

One thing I’ve always daydreamed about is being part of, what feels like to me, some of the more important times and births of genres in the history of art; The Renaissance, the time of the Impressionist, the Abstract painters of the 20th century, (I only missed that one by a few decades), as well as the coming of age of comic art. To have been included in one of these circles of great minds and talents would have been an incredible experience.

The era that I’ve always felt most drawn to, almost as if I had been there, was the time of the Impressionists. What an exciting, brave romantic time of a burgeoning artistic genre and group of artists to have been part of!

It was bold, and difficult. They were mocked, and bullied by fellow artists. The official royal salon did not accept them. It was most likely when the terrible lable of “starving artist” came to be, and most certainly was true in many cases. Because they were creating a new, often maligned artistic style, it was a constant struggle. Often even amongst themselves, the impressionist artist couldn’t always agree about what was “acceptable ” and what was just “too far”.

Yet, with all of that, how exciting it must have been! They were rebels, outsiders, but passionately believed in what they were doing. They fought for their art, sometimes living in drafty, damp quarters, with little food, (hence the “starving artist sobriquet “). Often in between sales, or the help of patrons, they lacked art supplies, making what they could and reusing canvases to paint new works.

This may all sound pretty rough, and I imagine it was. But there is that wistful charm about it. Somewhat like looking back on our own “glory days”, growing up. There was magic in the struggle. It makes us who we are. It made them who they were, and they were true to themselves.

I imagine, living in an attic studio in old Paris. Lead lined skylight covering most of the ceiling, pans catching the rain where it drips down from the old, cracked caulking. It’s chilly, but there is some warmth from the old stove in a corner. A large bank of lead lined windows, looking out over Paris. Easels, canvases, and brushes everywhere. And being too thin, but still young, strong and dreaming of people loving your work. Meeting up with other like minded painters, giddily talking about what you’re working on, and dreaming of what’s to come with this new way of painting. Complaining of the fools who don’t quite get it. Knowing, feeling to your bones that you’re on to something great. That all the hard times will be worth it. Maybe not knowing that these are the glory days, but maybe a little part of you hanging on for dear life to it, because it is “something “, something important. And it was.

From The Sketchbook; Undone

Throughout my career as an artist, there have been some pieces that for one reason or another, I just never completed. Thinking on it recently, and looking over some of these pieces put by the wayside, I see value in them. I learned some things from them, some nuance, how I felt a line here or there was good the way I handled it in that particular instance. And even though at the time I chose not to complete them, they don’t look bad, in their unfinished, almost forgotten way. So here, I give you; “From The Sketchbook Undone.”

Just a couple of parrots, from a class I taught.

She looks like a “Cassandra”.

I actually did finish this one, but I kind of like it unfinished as well.

I had all intentions of colorizing this…

A “study” I may someday paint, or not…

“Faeries”

I would still like to complete the above sketch. It’s a sweet moment of my younger daughter and one of my grand daughters, playing with Faerie wings at a local farm where they had put out things for the kids to play with. They had set up doors with plants and flowers on them in a small grassy area. It’s a sweet memory, and I know it would make a nice painting. But again, I still like the unfinished sketch, where I feel I had captured the moment well, and was happy with the results.

And just a guy on his bike, heheh

I hope you enjoyed this, another peek into my sketchbooks. Have a great week, see you next time!

An Elephant’s Life

“Big Blue”.

It is always exciting for an artist, to have someone love and appreciate their work enough to purchase it. I’m happy to say that, “Big Blue” has found a home and is on it’s way as I type this. As some of you may have guessed, I’m obsessed with elephants. I care a great deal about their plight in the world today. I urge everyone to boycott all institutions that use elephants, or any wild animals for so called “entertainment” purposes. What happens to these loving, family orientated, exceptionally intelligent, caring animals, who have critical thinking, and mourn their dead, at the hands of humans, is beyond horrific. I will always try to keep this blog on the lighter side, and primarily about art, but this is something that touches my heart. I am gladdened that there are others who also love and appreciate the treasured gift that we have in the elephants of our world. Speak up, be ethical, do what you can, when you can. Their existence depends on it.

From The Sketchbook; Idea File

Day tripping

Hey guys! Here where I live, we have had, yet again another week of mostly rain. In light of that, (or lack there of light), when we do get the odd sunny day, and it also happens to be my day off, well, if I have a chance to go somewhere, I go for it. Today’s adventure was to take a day trip over hither and yon, through the lovely Catskills. So we grabbed our water bottles and hightailed it to the mountains. And other than one town being a place better left unmentioned, and a twenty minute detour through the hills of “Deliverance”, it was a beautiful day. Also, due to this impromptu diversion, I’m a bit late with this post. But here it is, and this “From The Sketch Book” is a little different. I thought that maybe you would be interested in a little insight into how the mind of an artist works, or at least this artist. So this blog is just that.

“Q and A a Day”

Some time ago I happened upon an interesting sketchbook of prompts. It’s a thick book with four blocks per page and one prompt per page. It’s set up so that the artist can return to a block from each page, over the course of four years. This struck me as a very cool idea. And the best part is, although originally a seventeen dollar, (nineteen dollar book in Canada), it was at a dollar store! That’s right guys, a dollar! So without further adieu, I give you sketches from “Q & A a day” , A Dollar Store Score. (I should also mention that these sketches usually took under a half hour, some only minutes, so are by no means, “master pieces”, and are in no particular order.)

“Sunflowers”

Apparently I was “feeling sunflowers on this day”. I have no idea why. But I thought this would be a good one to start with, as most of today was very “sun flowery”. (Except later in the afternoon when surprise, it rained. Which is OK because we were home by then.)

“Hamlet”.

This one’s simple, the only Shakespearean thing I could think of was “Hamlet”.

”Dandy Lion”

I guess this is my idea of a “pattern in nature”, or maybe I just felt like drawing a dandelion.

“The Tramp and The Kid”

Somewhere in “editing”, the note I had written about this little drawing got waylayed. I actually did this while at the “other” job, (don’t tell 😉 For some reason there was a book about Charley Chaplin on the shelf. This is my rendition of a scene from that book.

Self Portrait. (I think I need some lotion.)

“Balloon Kid” forever!

Still looking for a “Balloon Kid” so I can be nostalgic. There were only a few games I liked and was actually able to play; this, Sonic, and the game all parents liked, Tetras. (I do like “Kingdom Hearts” now, but rarely have time to play), ah, well.

“Ladie’s”

If you’re a woman, this needs no explanation.

“Here Be Dragons”

Although this isn’t my best dragon drawing, I liked the idea of this because of one of my favorite quotes; “Here Be Dragons” meaning “dangerous, or unexplained territories”, a quote often used on ancient maps. Which pretty much sums up my life experiences.

“Solace”

A cup of tea and some chocolate is usually a good antidote to the “dragons” in my life.

“Target”

Target practice for those dragons.

“Umbrella”

This one just said to “draw an umbrella”, which are always fun to draw.

“Pop”

…not sure if I’ll ever get this kernel completely popped.

“?”

Can you guess my sign?

Too obvious?

“Dog day”

My puppers had her back to me… humm, did I offend her?

“Life of a Tree”

Again, I’m not sure that this tree will ever “grow to maturity”, but it will be fun if I actually do it.

“Wand”

Come on, “Genie’s lamps”, aren’t real.

I hope you enjoyed this, and maybe when I do this again, I’ll have a bit larger piece of popcorn, and an oak sapling. See you next time!

From The Sketchbook

Gliding Swan

Due to the Memorial Day weekend, and various and sundry other things that have come up this week, I am again posting some drawings “From The Sketch Book”. I hope to have time next week to regale you with a more in depth post, but for now I hope you enjoy this short post for your viewing pleasure. While flipping through my sketch book, I decided to share some sketches I have done of various birds. Gliding Swan, above is my favorite. Which do you like?

Owl Eyed

Chickadee

The Screech

The Screech 2

The Bard

Yellow Eyed Beauty (Pointillism)

See you next time!

From The Sketch Book, Extended Version: Fan Art

Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett

On occasion I’ve done some “fan art” when the muse moves me. It’s usually a fast sketch or painting of a character that I feel some connection to. It wasn’t until I began posting these works online, that I realized how many other people are moved by these characters as well. I always received such a positive response that it encouraged me to do more.

I also, hadn’t paid much attention to how many of these fan art pieces I had done until I started to catalog them. So, here for your viewing pleasure, (not in any particular order) are some of these fan art pieces I’ve done. (I did the sketches above of Sweeney Todd and Mrs, Lovett, to transfer onto two bags that I had crocheted.)

Mrs. Lovett bag

Sweeney Todd Bag

Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock in “Elementary” (I love this show).

“Dr. Who the 12th Doctah” Notice Gallifrey in the top right corner, and the Tardis vanishing… 🙂

Peter Capaldi the 12th “Doctah”

John Locke played by Terry O’Quinn “Lost”

Charlie and Hurley Dominic Monaghan and Jorge’ Garcia “Lost”

Tribute to Ironman “Avengers End Game”

Crochet plushie “The Winter Soldier”

“Agents of Shield”

Sam, Dean and “Baby” “Supernatural”

Dean Winchester “Supernatural”

Carol “The Walking Dead”

Beatrix Potter “Mrs Heelis of the Fells” From a biography I wrote.

Gollum “The Lord of the Rings”

“E T”

The Tin Man “The Wizard of Oz”

David Bennett of “Steam Powered Giraffe” as “The Spine”

The Duesenberg from ” The Great Gatsby”

Jack Skellington “A Nightmare Before Christmas” (In my defense, this was a long time ago.)

“I Yam What I Yam”

Nostalgia has never really played a huge part in my daily life, with only the occasional look back, and conversations when the mood strikes. It could be that my life has always been more of a whirlwind than a soft breeze. But now blogging, this new (to me) “medium” that I’ve undertaken, seems to have brought out some of that latent wistfulness. I’ve been thinking of late of different characters that I grew up with. And one that I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for, is the art and fun of Popeye.

In 1937 Crystal City Texas (the “spinach capitol of the world”), erected a statue of Popeye for promoting the spinach eating habits of Americans by 33% ! Heheh

Maybe that’s because my father liked him too, and anything my dad liked, I liked. I think it was more though. For example I found myself some years ago using a photo of a one panel cartoon featuring Olive Oyl to highlight a point. In this panel, she’s effectively kicking Bluto’s butt. (To some he’s Bluto, to others Brutus, you decide.) I’m thinking that Olive, the long suffering foil to Popeye, was more together than her constant, high pitched entreaties to be saved, made her seem. So points to E.C.(Elzie Crisler) Segar, for creating this early heroin. He was ahead of his time. And that was some time ago. He was born in 1894. So “put that in yer pipe and smoke it”!

Mr. Segar actually launched a comic staring “Olive Oyl and Harold Ham Gravy” before “Popeye” and for some weird reason, this makes me happy. But when I was a kid, it was all about the “sailor man”. Olive remained his background foil for many years. As I grew older, I came to appreciate Olive more, as she really is a bad arse, and in a clumsy, innate way, smart. She would remain the ever long suffering foil, always in trouble and in need of saving, yet still with a strong sense of self preservation.

I recently found this little cotton bag, at a dollar store!

Finally in 1929 along comes Popeye to save the day, and I find that in many other ways, Popeye was ahead of the game as well. Cringe worthy characterizations of the day, aside. Olive Oyl is often seen joining the “fight”. Then in 1933, on July 24th, Popeye “finds” the “infink” Swee’ Pea, and decides to “adopt” him, declaring “Whoopee! I always wanted a baby!” Come on! Goes to show how every new generation tends to assume that they’re the first to do something that in fact had been done numerous times before. It could be that some things had just never been given a name, for example, “stay at home, or single dad”

Look what I just found at a local antique store!

Popeye is a single guy with dubious job qualifications. (When does he ever do anything other than walk around confused and mumbling?) So then he “finds a baby” and suddenly he’s a “dad”… hhhuummm. To be fair at some point, he does actually join the navy.

Swee’ Pea!

In 1936 Olive Oyl’s Uncle Ben, sent her a gift from Africa, a magical, and strange creature named, Eugene the Jeep. Again this was in 1936! Not only that but Olive Oyl and Popeye carry on their “relationship” for years, ostensibly raising Swee’ Pea together, although not married.

Over the years, Popeye moves on to his own comic book series, and TV shows. It’s an interesting fact that, accomplished and famous artists through the decades, have honored the character of Popeye, by including him in their own visions of who his character is.

In 1961 Andy Warhol brings us his Pop Art, including a piece called “Saturday’s Popeye”. Also in 1961 the Pop Art Artist, Roy Lichtenstien included his own version of Popeye.

It’s impressive to note how many varied, and creative fields of entertainment have been captivated by this character. Including a magazine house in Tokyo Japan that launched “Popeye” magazine that would be the first fashion periodical for young men in Japan. In 1995 the US Postal Service featured Popeye in “American Comic Classics” a set of stamps that were issued in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the American comic strip. I can imagine that a lot of collectors have these hiding in drawers all over the country.

You can buy Popeye spinach. 😉

In 2009 Popeye appeared in a Google Doodle. Also that year, the artist Jeff Koons made a striking statue of him, in a beautiful mirror polished stainless steel. This statue, (hold onto your phone), sold at auction to Steve Wynn for an astounding 28 million dollars. You read that right.

In 2017, that striking statue that Mr. Koons made, in partnership with Snapchat, was released on the “World Lens” platform, making it available to be activated to view, in public parks around the world. Pretty cool.

Popeye and the other characters from the comic have been featured in things from; charity campaigns, promoting fragrances, men’s care, car adds and clothing lines. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Popeye franchise and it continues to go strong, having a lasting influence on our lives. Who knows where it will go from here, but I have a feeling it’ll make it to 100.