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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

  To every one out there I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  As I look outside on this Christmas eve it looks like a Bing Crosby night.  The snow has been coming down most of the day and we'll have a traditional looking holiday.  We will be relaxing as much as we can - which won't be much.  My family and I have always celebrated the season with Advent, but I will start right into Epiphany tomorrow.  That lasts 12 days.  We're doing this since we'll be going to visit my parents for 3 kings day.   
     It has been a year of ups and downs as all of us have had.  We wouldn't be human if we didn't have both.  But, it HAS been a good year.  With this -great- economy it is a good thing that both my wife and I have had work.  My wife has just finished a year of work at the Dollar store and I am 2 days away from 3 years for Frontier Communications.  I work from home but I did spend 6 months working over at the call center.  That entailed 4 hrs a day in travel time by bus - so very exhausting.  But, I am now back at home(great with this weather).  Have had good luck this year with published artwork for several different locations and just recently had my first article purchased that will come out(in spanish) next month.  I am anticipating an up swing in paid for illustration work and looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Travel Posters

     "I love those old travel posters!"  Juli and I spent last Saturday at the Barnes and Nobles just bumming.  We had each took turns walking around the store and picking up stuff we liked.  Of course, this time of year means we also are overloaded with calenders.  So I was going through them when I saw one for travel posters from the 30's of the National Parks.  Those 12 posters were very famous but had been lost to hisory until a Park Ranger found "ONE" in a pile of trash being taken out to be burned.  He saved that one and became enamoured with it.  He did some research and found black and white negatives of all 12.  Of course black and white is just that so he got a hold of an artist and with more research they reproduced those posters. 
     They were the high point of wood block printing.  The style is minimalistic in that it reduces the colors used.  And because of that the artists had to become inventive to depict their illustrations.  Design and layout went along with this to make some beautiful work.  Now I got to thinking and decided to try my hand at it digitally.  I went through my photos from Colorado that I had taken and started working on the image above.  I call it "Eye of the Needle"  It is a rock formation in Garden of the God's called "Siamese Twins".  through the hole you can see Pikes Peak in the background.  I took the liberty to fade the mountain out to give the image some dept.  Doing the image this way did force me to eliminate a lot from the original, but it takes it back to the emotion of the scene and not just a reproduction of it.  There are a total of 6 colors used for the rock, 7 for the foreground, 6 for the middle, 6 for Pikes peak and 2 for the sky.  Granted it is more then your standard Travel poster from the 30's but I still harp on detail - even when I am eliminating a lot of it.
     Below is the original photo. I still love it but both have their merits

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fall in full swing

     So, as we all know, it is fall.  But for me it wasn't until a few days ago.  As many of you know, I work from home.  I take calls to get my customers back online - I troubleshoot.  So I sit at my desk in my bedroom all day.  I don't have to go outside for most anything.  Especially these past two weeks with the cold I have had.  All I have wanted to do is rest and recuperate.
      Well, on Monday My wife Juli asked me to run an errand to the local WalMart to pick up some things.  I had spent the past week huddling in the house and I was feeling a little bit better so I grabbed the cart and headed out to the store.
      Being October the sun has been setting around 6:30 and it was at the time almost 5.  So the sun was low.  I took the time to look around at the trees.  It is the perfect time to see them this way.  The sunlight turns them all into stained glass windows.  Now having spent the past 12 years in Colorado I had gotten used to one predominant color for fall, yellow.  Seeing a mountain side covered in aspen trees turning is beautiful.  However I had forgotten what it was like here in the east. 
     I spent part of my childhood here and the falls here are what I equate with fall.  Well, one block from our apartment is this tall tree that caught my eye.  As I said the sun was at just the right angle to light that tree up.  It made me stop and smile.  Now that tree was exactly what I imagined when I thought of fall.  Tall, full of leaves in bright red, orange, yellow and a hint of green.  The fact that most of the trees around it are still very green made it stand out.  The colors made it burst.  If I can remember to bring out my camera at the right time and snap a shot of it before the leaves are all gone I will.  But, today it is raining out, which will knock a lot of them off.  So I will try again tomorrow, on my birthday.  That would be a great present from God. 
     For now, though, I give you a couple leaves to enjoy here.  Take the time to look at the world around you.  You may be surprised by what you see.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Troop 240's 50th

     In honor of my troop's 50th anny. I designed a patch for us and have done some artwork.  There was little time to get the design done so I simplified.  I did a circle patch split down the middle with half the old scout fluer de li on the left and the other half with the new one.  The motto, again I kept it KISS.  "Scouting from generation to the next".  The colors used for the background and the lettering reflected the uniform colors used then and now.  The hardest part was waiting on the national BSA to approve the design.  Here is the digital design.
      When I have one of the patches I will put it up here.  -  I also mentioned that I did some artwork.  One of the ceremonies that the troop performs at every Court of Honor is the candle lighting ceremony.  It is done in the dark so my camera has a hard time getting it.  So I took the best that I had and created a pen and ink rendition of it that I scanned into my computer then colored it in my Gimp program.  Here is the photo(after I lightened it up to see the details).

And here is the artwork I created

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why are you bothering me?

     Another sketch from the zoo.  This guy stuck to the back of his enclosure and most of the time he kept his back to us all.  I walked by his spot several times till I got him to look at me.  It seemed to me he thought, 'get it over with already'.  It made me want to laugh but later on I looked back and thought he was giving me his royal look. 
     I'm just going hog wild with this new tool.  But it is the only way to get good at it.  These images from the zoo may help me get a foot in the door for more work.  I like doing these animals.  They all have a majestic look to them.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ithaca fog

One morning, during our summer vacation to Ithaca, I woke up to a thick fog.  I stayed out in the shed again and had to walk across the yard to get into the house.  I was half asleep and when I stepped out I had to stop - go back to the shed and get my camera and sketch book.  I walked around the house taking pictures and when I got to this spot I had to draw this.  Again, I did this in pen and ink.  This is my work on the computer to make it come to the quiet life that I felt when I stood there.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Following on a Theme

     So, what can I say.  I'm a dog with a bone.  Teach me a new trick and I chew at it to the nub.  Sometimes I don't have the time to color in my work on site.  It is easy to add color later, but some of those pieces look good in pen and ink as well as in color.  So I don't want to add it.  Using the program to add the color to them after I scan them to my computer.  That means I can keep the original as is and have a color version too. 
     It is a mix of treating it like a water color and as a photo development.  As you can see, the results are very bold.  I really love how it retains the loose feel of a sketch and a magazine illustration.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Refining a new technique

     So on the same theme of my last post I have gone back to another of my pen and ink sketches and I colored it in with my Gimp program.  This time I used some of the old photo developing tools and dodged and burned in highlights and shadows.  It helped me retain the dark lines from my pen and ink.  every time I put down some transparent color - some of the black line would fade a bit.  So doing the dodge and burn helped it pop out again.  I will still do my watercolor by hand, but this will make for easier - quick work for some of the commissioned artwork I have to do from time to time.  
     This image is from the Seneca Park Zoo.  The totem pole used to be in the Midtown Plaza, but it got moved here when they went to tear the Plaza down.  I found a good home here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Having fun with a new way of coloring

     Recently My wife and I contacted the owner of a house for rent nearby.  It is at 249 Chalford.  Just a block from the apt. we are in now.  It is small but for the 2 of us it would be good.  It is right next to the bus stop we use all the time.  So that would be one draw back, having the bus pass in front every hour till 11pm.  But that is fine.  One day, while waiting for the bus, I drew the view down Chalford from the bus stop.  I got about half the house in the drawing(yes that is how small it is). 
     I only did it in pen and ink.  after scanning it in I decided to try out a new way to color the image.  I used my Gimp program.  I picked out the colors and setting the Opacity to almost nothing I started drawing directly over the image.  I was surprised by the results.  It reminded me of water color.  I did tweek the color saturation to make it brighter but here it is.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My first Sketch book

     I have been working on this book now for almost a year and a half.  I had it laying around for years collecting dust,  but when I was introduced to Urban Sketchers I picked it up, dusted it off and started drawing.  It, alone, has made tremendous difference in my abilities as an artist.  Granted, there were other factors, but near constant drawing has moved along in ability and recognition. 
     The book looked great when I started.  A black, leather like cover started peeling quickly and the binding fell apart.  At one point I added a cloth cover to it and that saved it from falling apart.  It also pushed me to learning how to bind my own books.  I have started working in one of those that I made and am going through it quickly since it is made of thick water color paper.  Still I have a few pages left in my first one. 
     It took me most of the day to scan in most of the rest of these pages and when I have that book finished I will be posting it as a digital flip book. but for the time being for go to the link on the left to see all of the new pages of the sketchbook.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An evening at Village Gate

     Every Tuesday a group of artist and architects meet to do some drawing.  Most of the time it is a chance for meet and spend time, out of the house with someone that speaks my language, art.  For the architects it is a chance to get out and actually put pen to paper.  With todays tech. less and less of them work on paper.  So they now have this group to just go out and draw.  Granted it is also a great opportunity to network or just hang out.  For me, now that I work from home, it is a great chance to get out and do some walking and drawing. 
     This week they decided to meet at Village Gate, on Goodman.  It is a small collection of business's, stores and restaurants centered on 2 old industrial buildings from the turn of the last century.  The view I drew was from the courtyard between the 2 buildings looking back to Goodman.  The banner you see is for the TexMex restaurant "Selenas".  It is the best TEXMEX in Rochester, NY.
     The following weeks we'll start looking for indoor spaces to draw from since the fall has set in here and it is starting to get colder.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Senenca Waterways Council National Jamboree patches

So this Thursday at the weekly Boy Scout meeting I was handed 2 copies of the patch's that I designed for the local council to take to the national jamboree.  It was a great stretch for me to design these.  I had never before officially designed any.  I was somewhat aware of the politics involved because of the crests that I'd done for the Texas State Guard.  The artwork for those 7 crests took me all of 2 months to design but 2 yrs. of red tape with the pentagon.  The results were great and you can find them on their official website, but it gave me an idea of what I would have to deal with.  Still, These patch's were a lot of fun.
     When I joined this council I was asked pretty quickly to come up with a working design for the  council to sell for the upcoming National Jamboree in a few months.  The local council director insisted I stick to the rules setup by the National council. So I did.  They made 2 sets, as you can see above.  1 was red border, for the boys to purchase and the other silver, for anyone wanting to spend more money to raise funds for those going to the Jamboree.  Everyone loved the design, but when the boys returned with some examples of other council patches we realized that no one was following the rules and still doing what was popular for the national jamboree.

     Well, I and the others here decided that the next jamboree we will design along those lines.  Of course I have 3 yrs, to come up with the design so no rush.  The idea of doing the theme of great lakes lighthouses or sunken ships of the same are high on that list.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Drawing of home

     Okay, so I have not put in a post in a few months.  Had a computer melt down (2 of them) and it took a while to get new ones and get back up and running.  I did not stop drawing so I will be playing catch up with this blog on some of those.  But,  for today I am post these images of a commission that has taken me a few months to complete.  Not because it was a hard, but because I was working from the call center and was taking 4 extra hours a day in travel time by buss.  Needless to say I was always exhausted. 
     This week I was finally allowed to go home to work. In no time at all I got the piece done.  So I will be handing it over tonight to the owners of the home.  it is too big for me to scan in so these photos will have to do.

    First a copy of the photo I took for the lay out of the piece.  I went to their home and did some sketch's to familiarize myself with the home.
      I made a small black and white print of this and projected it on the paper I was using for the piece and blocked it in.  Next I penciled in the details.  The little black and white print I taped to the desk above the piece to give me my values.
I started at the top, left to right coloring in the sky and the background trees.  I had the photo on the screen of my laptop at all times.
Next, I started with the roof line
Then the chimney.  Before I moved on I went back over the roof and chimney to add the details
I started in on the house, again left to right.  The hardest part was all the individual rocks.
Then, of course I worked through the foreground vegetation and grass. I also kept jumping around adding detail were it needed it.
All I had left this morning was the sidewalk and the road.  It was a fun piece to do.

Friday, April 19, 2013

39th International Sketchcrawl

This past Saturday wa the 39th Sketchcrawl for those of us who are Urban Sketchers.  Artist all over the world met together to spend the day drawing.  Here in Rochester N.Y. it was still a bit cold to be outside so we all decided to meet at the Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park.  It was nice and warm.  But for me the day started, as usual on the bus.  I noticed this guy in front of me with a hat that looked too small for him.
After taking a little time to walk around and admiring the plants we all settled down to draw.  I picked a spot with a chair and drew this view above.  It was a riot of detail and colors and I took a couple of hours to get this down.  In this room was a group of quail.  At first they kept peer up at us from under the foliage but after about 20 minutes they decided that we were harmless and walked in and around us. Where I sat they also would run in and under my feet it was cute to watch. Of course as soon as children came running in they all would scatter.
After that last drawing I wanted to concentrate on something small and by itself.  This flower stood out and I quickly drew it out.  Close up I was amazed by the detail God put into the smallest parts.

Moving to the cactus room I was intriqued by the shutter gears.  They were every where.
                        Of course, when in the cactus room you have to draw the cactus.

Also,of course was the mandatory sketch of other artist at work - busy at work in the cactus room

    The ride home always gives me subjects to draw

Finally, the next day at church I sketched Pastor Ann giving her sermon on the same passage of scripture that we heard on Easter sunday

Reviewing the patch prototypes for the Boy Scouts

Last night was our Troops' weekly meeting.  As you know from a previous post I designed a set of patches for the local council for this years National Jamboree.  When I got there the gentleman I had been working with at the council was there with the prototypes of the patches. Both sets. I did a lodge flap for the local lodge and I did a puzzle set for all those going.  We layed them out to go over them with a fine tooth comb.

After looking them over we decided to change the small lettering to black(too much red), Use a lighter tone for the skin and change all the fluer de li's to yellow. But other then that we were very pleased with the results.

No matter how many times I have tried to turn this image it would not - so cock you head or flip the screen.  On this one we are trying to see if we can enlarge it to the size of the patch below it.  We are going to move the "www" and fluer de li off the tomb stone and make the moon a bit bigger.

I was impressed by the detail visible on the patchs and with the changes they will look great

Sunday, April 7, 2013

M60 Tank

So, This past Saturday I decided that since it was sunny out it was warm enough for me to go out a sketch outside. I did wear my leather jacket a baseball cap and my drawing gloves.  After dropping Juli off at work I walked over to Post 468 of the American Legion near us.  It has a tank parked outside of it that I have seen every day on my way home from work.  The walk was about 2 1/2 miles so a bit of walk.  But I got there and introduced myself the people there then went out to the tank. There was a tree right in front of it so I sat down against it.  It did not take me long to realize that walking there was OK but sitting there was something else.  A major road was at my back and the breeze was making it hard to draw.  Between fighting the fliping page and the freezing cold breeze I fought my way through drawing the tank.  The tought to stop at the basic lines flashed in my head and I agreed with out hezitation.  When I decided that I had gotten enough down I also realized that my left leg was completely asleep.  So there I was slapping my leg and my bladder decided right then that it needed to be emptied.  I felt like a wounded soldier trying desperatly to get up and run. 
Well I hobbled into the Legions bar and quickly took care of my business.  For the next hour I sat at the bar finishing the drawing above from memory.  As you know a bar has limited lighting so I had to squint through this work.  As other members came and went they looked over my shoulder and made encouraging comments.  As I finished, the promise to come back and redo the tank when it was warmer was made I headed home.
The whole time I worked on this drawing I was reminded of my original intent to join the US Army to become a member of the Army Art Corp.  That never happened.  Also, while drawing this M60 Patton Tank the memories of serviceing these when I was in active duty flooded into my head.  They were phased out soon after I arrived at my first permanant duty station(24th Infantry).  As we decommisioned them we had to make them work like new.  At first we were dumb founded by this.  But then, we were told that they were being sold to Saudi Arabia.  So, as we always did in the Army, do what your told and don't bother asking why. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter Weekend

This past weekend Juli and I went home for Easter.  I took good friday off so we could take the early bus down to Ithaca.  A friend from church dropped us off at the Greyhound station an hour before the bus was due to leave.  We got our tickets and sat there for 40 minutes with  about 5 hours of sleep.  When it was time to board We were the first ones on and we went straight to the back.  I quickly sketched out the bus.  But by the time I finished the bus was full.
Most of the rest of that day was spent resting.  But that evening Alexandra Payton was having her senior recital down at Ithaca College.  I felt so old being that all I could think about was the first time I met her was in Dallas when she was a little girl.  For her last piece she came out with her Army Cornet, gave her testimony and played a hymn.  She even gave the Army salute.  She did wonderful
I thought I was going to get some sleep that night but dad invited me to mens' fellowship the next morning.  He and uncle Walt cooked the breakfast.  The gym was setup for the chapel service and the flowers made it smell wonderful.  The cross still had the purple sheet drapped on it.
When I got home I stood at the kitchen window and drew my favorite tree.  It must be over a hundred years old.  I can remember sitting on my bed as a boy in my bedroom looking at that tree and just being facinated by it.

While I was doing that I noticed a chipmunk sitting up on the left elbow knot.  I went out on the deck and quickly sketched him(brr - it was still cold).  When I went inside I noticed he'd moved to the knot just above the old stump. I saw him go back and forth through the tree.  Then noticed another one in there with him(a whole family)

Later that afternoon dad dropped Juli and I off at the Barnes and Noble.  We relaxed for a couple of hours.  Juli reading and me drawing.  I threw these down.



Easter sunday Major Hostetler(the Divisional Commander) was the guest speaker.  He precided over the induction of several new soldiers in the corp.
I did notice that the sheet on the cross had been changed to white.  I knew it was Major Carvil that did that but still the site of it(having seen it the day before in purple) stuck me.  He is risen indeed!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bell Choir

     My wife Juli is in the church Bell Choir.  At first it was very hard for her.  It had been quite a few years since she had to read music and it was a bit of shock to look at a page full of notes.  However, that did not last too long.  Especially since all she had to do was keep track of 2 or 3 notes on that page.  Playing in a bell choir you generally are responsible 2 or 3 bells - so 2 or 3 notes.  She got her hands on some colored pencils and now every time she get new music she takes the time to go through the piece and mark those notes.

     So now all she has to do is count.  It is funny to watch her concentrate on that page as they play.  Every Saturday they all get together to practice.  Since I am off work on that day and usually too cold to go outside and draw I go with her often.  Over the past year I have built up a small collection of sketches.

The ladies quite often goof off and there a lot of laughing.  Sometimes the laughing comes from the counting outload.
During practice several of them sit through it.
They switch out at times for chimes,
a few months ago they decided to get a director(Doug Udell)
Sometimes even he gets lost. When that happens they all laugh.
Not long ago they had a new member join. 
What I enjoy watching most is the multiple bells going at once.
Shirley is the leader of the whole group of ladies.
Last week the Bell Choir played "It is well with my soul" as part of the celebration of lenten Season. I recorded this video from the choir loft.