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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More buildings of Rochester "Powers" Bldg

     So - going with a theme I now explain one of the most popular buildings in Rochester, the Powers bldg.  It is at the corner of State and Main.  And it was built in fits and starts.  What does that mean?  Well, the owner first had it built up to 4 floors.  Then, one of his rivals built a building across the street from him that was taller.  So, what does he do?  He hires a new architect and adds 3 more floors.  S, his rival made his taller. So, he added the tower - then more to it then the flag pole and with that he won.  Because it was built this way the styles from floor to floor changed and made for a strange mash but one beautiful bldg.
     I decided to go with the look of an old photo with this pen and ink above.  and gain I followed the same formula that has worked for me so well.  First, I took my own photo.
     This gave me the dramatic angle I needed.  Looking at this photo I may redo the pen and ink to also be in color.  When I do I will post it here.  Next I went online to find images to get the details I needed.  I didn't have to look far for this one.  It is a popular bldg and there were many images of it.  In the end I used this one below to get the details.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Anatomy of a building portrait

      As a follow up I wanted to talk about the process I use to create a portrait of a building.  This is the "Academy."  It was the first "Brick and Mortar" school in Rochester.  It did have other smaller buildings before this one.  The building you see above was built in 1873.  When I moved into town I was despondent to see its roof in disrepair and looking vacant.  I loved the gothic look to it.
     Last year I noticed that it was being fixed up.  I made a point of spending a day walking around and sketching bits and pieces.  I made friends with the Chef of the Cafe inside and as a result I met the building owner.  As a member of the Landmark Society I was pleased to see it featured as a model for remodeling and restoration.  This year when asked to offer a piece of work for the annual Gala I decided to do a watercolor painting of this building.  The Gala this year is called "The Art of Preservation" and will be held tomorrow at the Memorial Art Gallery.  So - for the first time in my life I will have a piece of my work on display in an Art Museum(at least for one day - lol). 
     For most building portraits I start with a photo that I have taken to get the dramatic angle that I want.  This gives me the basic layout for my painting or print.  Then, as with all these buildings built so long ago I go online and do some research to find images taken of the same building when it was new(if they exist).  This gives me the details that have changed or taken off.

     From these I gather as much of the details that I can.  Most buildings in New York that were built during the turn of the century have smoke stacks and as soon as they start renovating that is the first thing to go(state regulations).  The cast iron fencing on the roof line had to be added back in.  Here I had to make an educated guess.  And finally I chose to move the flag pole back to the top. 
     In the photo that I took there are trees and as you can see from the older ones there were none.  I did leave one in the painting to set an edge or frame the shot but the others I had to come up with something to block the view as it is in my photo.  So I went back to the archive photos from Rochester and chose the delivery wagon you see in the painting.  It was of a local store and as you can see in the older photo above they were using horse drawn wagons. 
     I started with a pencil sketch of the entire portrait, making sure all the details were drawn in. Then I painted in the base color without erasing the pencil drawing then I went over the entire piece with a pen to go over the pencil drawing.  After that I erased the pencil lines, touched up the color and went over the entire piece with a pencil to finish up the shadows and blend out any blemishes.

     In the end I finished up with a dramatic Image of one of Rochester's unique gems as seen during the pinnacle of our city's history


Friday, November 21, 2014

     So - I have been out of touch here for a few months.  My family has taken a big hit these past few months.  A cousin in law Brett(my age) had a stroke, brother in law Walt(my age) died, cousin George(my age) died then an Aunt and Uncle also died.  After my Uncles' passing my mom said out loud "Basta" or "Enough".  We've mourned plenty I know them all well and know that they would say move on, live your life.  So with that said I dive into my work.
     I will be doing a review of a lot of the landmarks in Rochester, since I love the old buildings around here.  I begin with this guy above.  It was originally built to be a clothing store for the National Clothing Company whose manufacturing was done here too.  I don't have the details as to when it was built but figure it was late 1800s' to early 1900s' just because of the detail included on it.  I did my best to represent most of the small details and I know I have missed a lot since some is inside. Thank God they are preserving that too.  It was for a while a bank then for years it sat vacant.  This past year I have watched as they have been gutting it and remodeling it into the Hilton Garden Inn.
     It has been attached to the Hilton Hotel ever since the hotel was built but they bought the property and are making some fancy suites out of it.  Another example of the SLOWLY reviving downtown here in Rochester.  I fretted for a little bit as I watched them demolish an adjacent building then the old smoke stack.  But, they seem to be sticking close to the original, beautiful detail that give this site its character.  I can't wait to see the inside once they finished.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Reflections on my childhood

As this month ends I have been reflecting on my early years.  At work we are always running a contest of one sort or another.  This past month has been around NASA space history as a hook.  Well on my desk I have one of my paper models.  It is the Gemini Titan rocket you see above.  Now having a model to work from I started drawing this piece above.  The problem was - in order to draw it all with some degree of detail I used a seperate sheet of paper for each stage ( the bottom stage being too big to draw on one sheet).  Thank God I have taught myself photoshop so I could scan them all into my computer and peace them all back together as you see it there.  Drawing this made me remember the bits of history that I experienced.  The first memory was being in elementary class and my teacher had pulled in a tv so that we could watch the first man land on the moon.  That is the first "clear" memory.  There is a fuzzy memory of what NASA was doing while I lived in Puerto Rico.  I can remember going to Cape Canaveral with the family as a young teenager.  Then when I was in Mexico on my senior trip to Yucatan with my friend Erik we stopped our site seeing for one day to sit in a Salvation Army childrens home to watch the first Shuttle Launch.  And while staying with my older sister in Florida during a Christmas break I stood on her balcony in Orlando and watched an Air Force Titan (much like the one above) ark up into the sky. I could not believe that I could hear it go up from that far away. 
     Like most young boys of the 50's and 60's I was enamoured with space travel.  I wanted to be an astronaught.  In Asbury, in my speech class I used the Shuttle Manual I had to deliver a speech on how use the shuttle galley(complete with a working carboard model of it that I made and wearing a lab coat I bought and Shuttle patches sown onto it.  Above me right now on my wall is a patch I got from one of the shuttle ground crew.  When I worked for Airport Security in the TSA in Colorado She came through and I had the luck to be the one screening her.  She worked on "STS 107" The ill fated final mission of the shuttle Columbia.  I remember both lost Shuttles vivdly.  A tragedy, all the losses that NASA suffered, to be sure.  But, what sticks in my head is that we as a nation mourned for them, picked up the pieces, figured out what went wrong and kept going up there. 
This Patch reminds me of that point.  I feel that my facination for space travel led me to an avenue out of my own hardships of math and reading since it lead to my interest in science and science fiction.  My father will remember defending me to the principle of the school in Mexico when I turned in a term paper about black holes.  I had a history teacher that told me to my face that I would amount to nothing in life.  When she announced that we had to turn a term paper about anything we wanted to I did mine about the black holes.  I did it to spite her but I did my research(well before the internet existed) for that paper.  When she refused to take it I balked and my dad went to the principle.  Upon confirming what the teacher had said about doing it about anything the principle took to the head of the schools science department who gave me an A. 
     While I did not go to work for NASA - in one form or another my interest for it helped me reach some of the successes  I have gotten.  We all have something that catches our interests early in life.  For those who have little kids - encourage those interest (just as MY parents did).  It may go nowhere but it will still help shape them as they grow.  So Live Long and Prosper ....

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Breathing new life into old projects

So, this past week another store opened in the old Wegmans that closed near us.  This time it is the Goodwill store.  They remodeled part of the building to be their store.  My wife, Juli and I went there after church on Sunday to check it out.  We left with some small stuff but she also picked up a steamer and I with a 17 inch flat screen monitor($9) woo hoo.  My laptop screen cracked some time ago - so I have had to deal with a big blotch on the screen where the crack is.  I was able to plug in the new screen and walla - big (clean) new screen.  I am on it right now. 
It also means that I was able work on my graphics program at a size that doesn't strain my eyes.  These past few days I went back to some old projects that were in their line stages and scanned and finished them up.  Above is a piece I wanted to do a whole set of cards(eventually).  But the first one was this one of me for a small post card for my business.  I pulled out my old uniform to get the details right.  Thought it turned out pretty cool.

I also redid a piece that I once did years ago when I worked at a sign shop.  I created this as a decal that could be put on a vehicle on both sides(so reversible).  I had the original pencil line drawing so I scanned it in and recolored it.  I have the original digital image some where but at over 1000 dpi so very slow to open and most print shops are not setup for that.  So this one is at the standard 300 dpi. I wanted a fierce look for the eagle.  I do know that there are several vehicles in Afghanistan with this guy on their sides.  I want to revisit this as part of a patch of embroidered on the back of a jacket, heck, even as a tattoo maybe.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Transient Hike

     With Spring finally clawing its way back I have written a new article about hiking.  This time it is about a hike up the Treman Park gourge in Ithaca, New York.  I will often write about nature since I love to hike, but I always try to talk about what it is to Worship God through viewing what he has created.  Notice, it is not worshiping the creation but the Creator.  He is still the center of it all.  It is just how I chose to do it.  John Muir, the man who convinced the US Government to start the National Park movement to preserve wild places,  put it best when he said.  “No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!”  On a mountain side gazing out on Gods creations and sometimes signing is how I most love to worship.  So here is the latest article.

     Ever since living in Puerto Rico the second time I have had a love for hiking. Having developed that passion, now, where ever we've lived I seek out new places to hike. But, ever since living in the state of Colorado hiking has become a means of worship. I do it for the chance to sit down at the end and marvel at and praise God for His creation. Now, as this winter has finally let go its grip for this season I'm anxious to get out and worship God again through His work. While I think about this I'm reminded of one place I have hiked that holds a special place in my heart ever since the first time I hiked it, Treman Falls in Ithaca New York.
      It is a state park in my home town. Over the years I can remember going there in the summers to swim. But, this one time I decided to see what else the park had to offer. It was during the summer of my parents fiftieth anniversary and we had a family reunion. One day my father offered to take my wife and I and several nieces to go swimming. The water was too cold for me so I went for what I thought was a short hike. Treman is a gorge that goes up that mountain for about two miles. There were two trails, the hard one and the harder one. With camera in hand, but not knowing, I took the harder one.
          Like many state parks in New York the trail was well maintained and paved in some places. So there was no problem hiking it. Well, except that it was steep at parts, and very hot and humid. At the very start was a wall of stairs. It took only a few minutes to double over in exhaustion. The humidity made me feel like I was breathing soup. Every pour on me opened up and I was soaked. To continue, I had to keep telling myself,”ten more steps.” A half hour later I got past the hardest part of the climb.
      Most of the trail was in the shade and from that point on it was generally a level walk. From time to time I stopped to take pictures and at one point I waded out to splash some water on my face to cool off. Yet, this part of the hike took me about two hours. So when I arrived at the first bridge across the creek, two thirds of the way up, I stopped to rest. My legs were shaky and the humidity dragged on my shoulders. I wanted to keep going, but my father would be worried, waiting at the bottom, and I was tired. So I decided to give up and go back down.
      While I rested a couple came down from the top of the trail and stopped at the bridge too. They saw me taking some photos and struck up a conversation. For several minutes we talked pleasantries then I said that I had to go back down. They mentioned that the top was not far away and they offered me a ride back down. So, a few minutes climb, or almost an hour or more walking down on tired legs, it wasn't hard to choose. As we headed up I stayed close to them or they to me. At that point it was hard to tell. However, the reward was just a few minutes away.
      The gorge soared up three or four times with each bend in the trail. Each had a set of stairs to climb, but they also had ever growing waterfalls. Finally, at the last turn I beheld a five story cascade of water. It was beautiful, and, it required one final push up the stairs to a stone bridge over the falls. I took a deep breath and prayed “God help me,” and forged ahead. When I got to the top I stopped in the middle of the bridge and looked out. The view from there made my heart skip a beat. In one direction it was like looking down a grand forested mountain, the thunder of the plunging water filling the air. In the other was a small canyon of moss covered rock with trees towering over it. Looking on that canyon reminded me of those opulent Gothic cathedrals reaching high into the heavens. Here though, was a cathedral built by Gods hand. My spot on that bridge being the altar. His presence filled me there and I was overwhelmed with peace, my pain and exhaustion forgotten.

   From there the couple drove me back to the bottom. I found my father there, agitated but relieved. They were waiting on me to leave. After one quick plunge into the cold water to cool off we left. As we drove home I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. “So we do not loose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
      Not far from the end of my hike I wanted to give up. Throw in the towel, as they say. But, just as I made my move to turn back, God reminded me of my goal and offered me what I needed to reach it. When I did, He overwhelmed me with His blessings.
      There will always be those obstacles to overcome in or lives. But, as the famous evangelist George Muller once said, “Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.” Just as Peter did when he kept his eyes on Christ, he was able to walk on water. But, when he looked away he fell into it. So, keep your gaze on Him and when life gets hard, He will be faithful to pull you through.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Easter has gone Banannas

     So I have had another article published this month and again it is in spanish.  So for those of you who follow me I have posted the article here in english.  I used an image that will resonate with the readers in the tropic region who would be reading this.  Yet, the imagery is what I think of at this time of year.  Here it is.

      When I think back to the images that come to mind at this time of year I'm surprised by some and not by others. Being the son of an officer I can still feel the malaise and frustration of getting up so early for sunrise service. If my sisters or I said “do we have to go,” dad would busy himself with getting ready and mom would give us that look that got us out of bed.
Still, for me being an artist, certain images do come to mind. As a young teenager in New Jersey I was struck by the crocuses blooming through the snow. Or in Colorado, watching the sun rise in the mountains. But, the strangest image I recall was a banana tree.
      My parents return appointment to Puerto Rico was as the corp officers to the Ponce Corp. our home was on the same property as the corp. Next to the front porch of the house we had some large plants, including one banana tree. It fascinated me. During the rainy season I would sit under its' broad leaves. It was like sitting under an umbrella. For such a small tree, though, it took a lot of care. To keep it healthy we had to constantly remove the “suckers.” Off shoots of the main tree. If we didn't, most of the trees' energy would go into feeding them and it wouldn't produce fruit. When it bloomed we'd let the next sucker grow but kept pruning the rest. Once the fruit was harvested we waited a few days then cut down the tree altogether. If left to stand the tree would rot. The new sucker would grow up to replace the old tree.
      But, why my association with Easter? It was for two reasons. First of all, we all know of Christ talking about bearing fruit. This tree was labor intensive, since those suckers kept popping up all the time. If allowed to go wild we'd have a tangle of trees, but no fruit. Its' energy would be wasted. However, more importantly, for the tree to reach its' full potential it had to die. That stuck in my head ever since I learned that.
So too did Christ. God wanted us to inherit eternal life, but we could never do it. Our sin sapped us of our ability to reach him. A sacrifice was needed. One with no blemish(suckers) and that was Christ. But, for us to have the gift of eternal life He had to die(be cut down). That constant cycle of the banana tree, for me, serves to remind me of the lengths that God went to, to save me. His resurrection was my salvation. But, his death is what I am reminded of all the time. It humbles me before Him. It is why I created this image below.
As an artist I've seen most of the artwork done on the subject of Easter. Because of my preference for the crucifixion I've seen all the famous paintings about it. Some years ago a thought came to me. That being, “I've seen paintings of Christ carrying the cross, on it and being taken off it, but never one of Him being raised on it.” So, as a gift to honor His sacrifice, I started to create the piece you see here. It took three months of research before I put pen to paper.
      There were several points I worked into it to convey the importance of His death. First of all the details. How did they raise the cross, being nailed instead of tied, what did the Romans wear and what were their ranks. All this I did, first, to show the pain they put him through. More so then normal. The Romans I show are all in different ranks to point out that Christ died for everyone. The pose was of the U.S. Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima to point out that he died for everyone from that point on throughout all of history. Christ is in all black to show that He took on the sins of all mankind. He calls out in pain, the only time he voices it. Though, not in physical pain, but the pain of God turning away and the clouds . Hence, the title “Eloi!” Still, in all this there is a halo on Him. Christ is still God. He was without sin, but He took it on to sacrifice it. All so that we could be called sons and daughters of God should we confess our sins and accept Christ. Altogether, the piece reminds us that God is in “everything.” From the smallest detail to the overall message.
      As we know, when every detail of His prophesied death was met He stated that he was thirsty. Taking a drink of vinegar from the offered sponge He died(Matt 19: 28-30). His death was but the first step in our salvation. And, yes, His resurrection was the important. Yet, without that death, there would be no eternal life for us at all. So, I implore, celebrate the gift of life he gave us. But, never forget the price He paid.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coat of Arms

     I have been a avivd follower of history in all its' trappings.  As an artist, heraldry really caught my attention.  A visual record of someones' history.  The rules and regulations behind it are vast and change from country to country.  During the middle ages it was the best way for an artist to make a living.  Some of the rules are the same, though, from place to place.  Like the simpler the coat, the older the family. 
   This one above is carved in stone and hanging above the entrance to "El Morro".  It is a wonderful piece and I'm amazed that the detail is still vivid after a century hanging there.  What with the humidity, mold, and rain.  Yeah, I am still on a kick for Puerto Rico. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

El Morro

A few weeks ago I was sitting there with my wife Juli, trying to describe the Spanish colonial fort "El Morro" in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  it took a bit, but it only got her confused more, LOL.   It is a very interesting place and for some a very hard place to imagine.  I did a quick sketch of it's most dominate feature and used in most of the ads for the island.  For me, I will never forget the place.  I can remember having a friend their during my second stay there that was in the coast guard.  Because of that he was able to get me into part of the fort that were off limits to the public.  Having talked to Juli about the place has made me feel nostalgic and I've decided that one day I must go back to visit again.  In that feeling of nostalgia I created these two quick sketch's.  I send these out to all my family and friends that have been there too.  In this cold winters' night look on these and feel warm.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Second Chances

So,  have had a Second article purchased and a third on the way.  So I am posting the second one here for every one to read.

From the moment I was sworn into the U.S. Army to the moment I was discharged was just over two years. Less than your average enlistment, four years. And a couple of decades less then I had planned since I wanted to make the military my career. I started at, “where do I sign,” and went to “what happened?” My entire career was set in stone for me and I charged full steam ahead. That is, right off a cliff. All these years later I understand that old saying,”If you want to see God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
I originally enlisted to become an artist for the Army. Yes, they have artists in the Army. It was difficult to get into the Art Corp, but I wanted to serve my country, and do it using the talents God had given me. It meant I could have retired in 2005 at the age of 43. With gusto, I looked forward to a few years of regimented life, then taking the rest of my life easy. That ideal, though, lasted a few short months.
All these years later I can look back at my mistakes and shake my head. Many of my habits got in the way, being head strong and lazy, and yes, I rushed into marriage. If you asked anyone in my old unit what had led to my discharge they would say it was that last point. My ex-wife and I did get into many fights and several times the military police had to step in. It happened enough times that my commander kicked me out.
For a short while I was bitter. Everything I had planned had been derailed. I blamed her, my commander and others, but never myself. My ex-wife and I separated and I moved to Texas to be near family. They gave me the support I needed at that time to get get my head together. That support, of course included getting involved in the church – and more importantly with God.
Over time He helped me understand that the crash of my career had been my own fault. The other factors in my fall were just symptoms of one thing. I had put myself ahead of God. My relationship with Him was,”Lord, I want,” not,”Lord, I am here, what is your will?” Once I realized that, I came to God and asked for forgiveness. As soon as I did He reminded me of my trashed record. Why He did, I could not understand. It was in the past. But, He did, so I prayed for a way to remove it.
When I was done I felt at ease. My life was His and somehow a part of my past would be wiped clean. What makes me laugh, now, is that the next day a friend of mine and I had plans to go to an air show. When we arrived there were military police directing traffic and performing crowd control. Both of us were prior service and noticed that their uniforms were a bit different. We asked one of them who they were. He said “Texas State Guard,” and directed us to their table inside the show. As we talked to the officer there it dawned on me that God knew I would be here.
Of course, that table was there for recruiting. So I took my time to learn everything about them. In turn I told him everything about my military record. By the end of an hour the unit commander said,”If I can get the Governor to sign off on the paperwork, would you be interested in enlisting?” I said yes, filled out what I had to, then shook hands and left to enjoy the show. Two weeks later he called back. My enlistment had been approved.
That next Saturday I was sworn in as a corporal. It was an instant promotion since I had been demoted to private when I left the Army. Over the next seven years I attended every course I could. I held positions as Commanders' aide, Personnel, Recruiting and Training Sergeant for that unit. In that time I advanced three ranks. Where ever I could help the Division I did. But, in the end, I gave it up to follow Gods' leading.
As I made that decision to leave I was happy. God had come back to the center of my life and He gave me my hearts desire at that time, just as it says He would in Mt 7:7. It was His will for me to be in the military, but not as I envisioned it. It did not become my career, but a facet of who I was. It is a part of my life that someday I believe He will use for His glory.
God knew that my love of country was a part of me, He made me after all. He wanted me to live and express it. But, I had to learn the “HE” was above that, as it says in Col. 1:18-23. Once I lined up correctly to Him the rest simply fell into place. Now, that isn't to say that everything I have asked for I have gotten. He knows me better then I know myself. Every good and wonderful thing for “MY” life He wishes to give. But, only if it is right for me and only if I am right with Him. Though all of this I have learned to be content with what He does or does not give me. He may still give me what I want, but is His timing, not mine. What they say in the Army fits well here. “Hurry up and wait.”

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


     So - the Big 3 holidays are finally past and it is time to get back to normal life.  I pulled out my sketch book out and finished off several drawings that had sat dormant for a few months.  I am busy now with many art pieces and writing article too.  The above piece was only half way done on site since I had step in to help with some of the chores. 
     That weekend was a lot of fun.  It was the annual Trophy Challenge Camporee at the BSA camp Babcock-Hovey outside of Geneva, NY put on by our local council.  It is the biggest event of the year and there were over 2,000 people in attendance.  Our Troop, we had over 20 there.  I had not been camping in years and when I had gotten rid of most of my gear when I moved to NY.  So it was a scramble to get what I needed (everything).  But the event was typical camping fun ie: cold, rain and what not. 
     Now, I came home after that weekend and proceeded to have the worst cold I have had in a long time.  Still, I had so much fun.     

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Years resolution

So we all talk about doing a resolution for the new year.  I kind of gave up on that, but this year I have resolved that my illustration business must start building steam.  To that I add writing.  I already have one article bought and another waiting at the editors for approval and purchase.  I did get this portrait done (quickly-3 days) of someone I grew up knowing, Enrique Lalut.  He also contributes to the magazine that I do artwork for.  He had a very dark photo for his by line so they asked me to create a pen and ink for it.  I was surprised by how quickly the hand work came together.  So, one piece down before the first week is out and several more lined up.  Next month one of my regular gigs will be doing an article about me.  So when it comes out I will post it here.  In the mean time Happy new year everybody.