James Gurney - Artist Of The Week
I'm always on the lookout for artists who are not only proficient but also have a knack for explaining things well.
I've run across one such artist recently, and I'm just devouring his material on the web. His name is James Gurney. I just love his style, and ability to explain things in a simple, down-to-earth way.
I think we were almost neighbors when we were growing up. We're practically the same age, he was born June 14th, 1958 and I was born in July. He spent his formative years in Palo Alto in the 1970s. I was right up the road in Redwood City at the same time. He went off to Berkeley and studied Anthropology, and I went into the Marines. Well, at that point we diverge.
James wrote a book with Thomas Kinkade in the 1980s called "The Artist's Guide to Sketching," and he spent much of his career as an illustrator painting over 70 book covers for science fiction and fantasy novels. I think he'd say that he's most famous for his illustrated Dinotopia series.
He is a prolific and proficient creator and sketch artist. I love the videos he produces for YouTube that explain his process and how he thinks about things. His style is laid back, easy-going, and a little bit quirky - that's something I really like.
Here's one of his more popular videos. He sketches an airplane while waiting for a plane. I liked it and I think you'll like it too.
I'm getting a lot from his YouTube videos, but he does sell extended versions of the process. I'm sure I'm going to purchase some of his extended videos at some point to get a bit more into his methods. I love learning new things.
Here's a list of his web locations if you want to see what he does and how he does it.
Now go out and make some ART!
To Drive Or Not To Drive
After our excursion to a seaside last weekend, I thought a little fish drawing might be in order. Your guess is as good as mine. Is the worm offering the fish a way out or just leading him on? I wonder what a good caption might be. If you have any ideas, let me know.
The weather today has been unbelievable. The mercury topped 100 degrees this afternoon as the jet stream sucked up that Sub Saharan air and dumped it directly in our neck of the woods. It was blazin' hot for England.
We were sitting having a late lunch at a lovely cafe in Hitchin this afternoon. It was fascinating to watching folks walk past. Some people were going by at breakneck speed on their way to some appointment or other; some looked deathly afraid they would be late. Some sauntered by without a care in the world, having a grand old time.
Some were a little scary. I guess there's always some creepy people in the world. One of them sat down next to us at the cafe. He was dressed all in black (admirable given the temperature). He had one of those black pork pie hats and a pork pie face that could have come straight out of a Dickensian drama. I was surprised he wasn't drooling. He was a bit of a letch watching the women going to and fro. I guess old Charlie Dickens would have called him Mr. Letcher from Bosom Alley.
He was the least of our concerns as it would turn out.
One old fella walked up to his car. God, I felt sorry for him. He was skinny as a rail, and his mouth hung open like a cave awaiting the exodus of 10 million bats. He was in a permanent state of exhaling like Mr. John Coffee breathing out the bad stuff on the Green Mile or The Scream by Edvard Munch.
It was painful to watch him get into his car right in front of us.
I then saw an elderly Sikh couple approaching - a lovely older couple. The pair were hobbling along very nicely on the sidewalk (pavement for my English friends). I remember thinking, wow those two shouldn't be out on a day like today. They were clearly struggling.
To my amazement, after the first Rocky Horror Auto Show with gaping mouth man, this couple started to approach a car. They could hardly walk. I was sure calamity would present itself yet again, and I'd have to invoke incantations and beseech the Almighty for pedestrian protection again.
The man helped what I assume was his wife into the car. Once she settled in, the man went around to the driver's side to get in the car. It was clear he was struggling as well. He went through a similar checklist to gaping mouth man. Turn, sit, twist, insert leg, twist, maneuver leg two, and so on.
They drove off in there Merclette (small Mercedes - I think the term should catch on). I again said a little prayer.
As I was supplicating myself to the celestial overlord, Andrea said in her most posh English accent said, "Oh, good heavens. Don't these people know about Uber?" I went back to my third beer - no I wasn't driving!
One of the most significant challenges I had with dad, as he progressed through different stages of oldhood, was convincing him not to drive.
I had a conversation with him that lasted hours. He was having none of it. Nobody will tell him what he could and could not do. But, after that long conversation, and an accident that took off the wing mirror (no one was hurt, only a tree branch was damaged), he admitted that he shouldn't be driving and would not drive anymore. Of course, the next day, it was like the conversation never took place.
From then on, I was the pariah that kept him from driving. I had taken away his keys, and he was not a happy camper. Lucky for me, he quickly forgot who it was who told him not to drive. He said he had decided that it wasn't a good thing. In the end, it became random other people who had told him he shouldn't drive. There was always somebody to blame. I'm just glad it wasn't me all the time.
What I'm trying to say, and I hope I live up to it in the end.
I hope I can recognize when I can no longer safely drive from here to there.
I hope there are loved ones who will let me know.
I hope I realize that there is Uber.
I hope that time doesn't come too soon, but I know it will happen.
So, until next week, I wish you peace and please, if you drive, do drive safely.
T - 256 DAYS
Cathy Smale - Artist Of The Week
In Hitchin, right around the corner from downtown, is a small gallery called The Art Nest. They occasionally have art classes and they always have artwork there to catch your eye.
I noticed this artist's paintings there over the last couple of years. Her style is unique and I do love her results.
Her name is Cathy Smale.
She develops the images with layers and layers of thick oil paint. Whether she produces cityscapes, birds, or seascapes her work is immediately recognizable.
Personally, I'm partial to the little bird paintings she does. You know I'm a sucker for a cute little bird painting.
I am very happy to present this artist to you this week. She is one of my favorites.
You will find her work at any of these fine interweb venues:
Now, go out and make some ART!
What Are The Odds
The week before last we went to the races at Newmarket. We took the chance to drink a bit of sparkling wine and to see the horses run.
I love watching horses run but I don't gamble.
I learned my lesson in the summer of 1979. I spent the entire summer in Las Vegas or as we always called it "Lost Wages."
A friend and I spent the summer going door to door offering to paint house numbers on the curbs of houses in newly developed neighborhoods. We were promising "curb appeal." We were, of course, college students trying to earn enough money for the next semester at school. People were very obliging. How could they resist enterprising students doing their best to further their education? For five bucks we would make sure the postman would never miss their house on his rounds.
Honestly, we raked in cash; at least enough dosh for a decent hotel, food, and gambling. We did this day after day all hot summer long.
Do you want to guess how much money we took back with us at the end of the summer? We should have been flush with cash. Instead, we barely had enough gas money to make it back to San Diego, where it all started.
I kicked that gambling habit in the teeth right then and there. I vowed I would never get sucked up in that life again.
I've been back to Vegas and I've gambled since but I strictly limit my losses. I've never spent more than $20 a day gambling in Vegas; if I gamble at all. It's kind of the price of admission.
Even though I shun gambling, I love to go to the horse races. I don't know any of the vagaries of horse racing, jockeys, or how the heck they come up with the odds for betting. I've seen a racing form before, and I've seen people study them to death. I don't know, however, if placing a bet after that meticulous and somewhat magical analysis can produce any better results than tossing a coin in the air.
Here's what I do...
It's a brilliant system. I would recommend it to anyone who needs a system for horse racing.
I go the paddock and look at the horses being paraded around. I do a lot of ooohin and ahhhhing and oogling and scratching my head. I stick my finger in the air and say, "Hey, that's a pretty horse!" (They're all pretty though, aren't they). Or I might say, "Gosh, I love that name!". Things like Codswallop or Thunderdash or Flashbang or First Dude or Painting The Sky float my boat. Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening. Gallio ... oh heck - there I go again. Sorry - Bohemian Flashback - now that would be an excellent name for a horse.
Once, I've completed a careful evaluation of the "horse flesh" in front of me, I'll make a note of the name, the number, and the odds, and I go watch the race. When the horse loses, I count up the money I saved by not betting. It's a marvelous system. A spectacular system, indeed. I've banked thousands of dollars/pounds over the years by proactively, not gambling.
Yup - not gambling is for me. Wanna bet...
Until next week, I wish you peace.
T - 263 DAYS
Dave Dodge - Artist Of The Week
I was digging through the archives of my mind, thinking of a time in my life that was, let's say, full of wide-eyed opportunity and potential, and I thought of my friend Dave, whom I was introduced to by my mother. (that story is probably one for another day).
Dave had a hot 240z. I think I remember it was yellow. (I could be full of hooey - ya never know) I was a real fan of the car, and I thought Dave was great. He was studying to be an artist and bartending at the Stamford Hotel in Connecticut.
I lost track of him over the years and wanted to see how he was doing. I found his website, www.davedodge.com.
Dave spent his career as an art director in the corporate world and has recently transitioned to painting en plein air more or less full time.
Dave is a great artist. I love his plein air paintings. There's a photo of him painting on his website. When I first came across his website, I knew it was him even though you can't see his face.
I was able to reconnect with him lately, and I am happy to introduce you to this talented artist's work.
Dave lives with his wife in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
His friend John introduced Dave to outdoor painting, and he's been hooked it ever since.
In honor of this week's featured artist, here is one of my own pointillist contributions to the world. This is what I imagine my skull looks like under the skin. Read on...
As I said in my last little update, I am more a gorilla than a gazelle. I don't think I realize the extent of my klutziness.
I have run into walls, telephone poles, fence posts, and door jams. At times it even extends to tripping over steps, stones, and things that aren't there. You know, the type of trip where you look back to see what the hell happened. For me, I swear the earth reaches up and grabs me, and I go tumbling.
In the United States, where doors are more often than not several inches above my head, it doesn't pose too much of a problem. Most of the time, the worst that happens is light bruising and rattled bones from running into door jams.
Some part of my body is continually recovering from a cut, a bruise, or some form of petty injury. It often includes bleeding from some fresh wound or another. Sometimes I'm spontaneously leaking from a cut I had no idea I had. In the past, folks may have called it stigmata, tied me to a stake, and set a match. Now they make bandages for that.
However, England has ancient houses with positively Hobbit sized doors.
The house in which we live is 500 years old. Yes, it has ghosts and creaks and whispers, oh my. One of the doors here is only three and a half feet tall. That's being generous. People were shorter then.
Until the last couple of hundred years, human height had stayed relatively constant; somewhere around 5'7" (170 cm for those not in the United States.) So I don't know why that door is only 3 1/2 foot tall.
People have been shooting up like bean poles in the last one hundred and fifty years. We've added an average of 3.9" inches (10 cm) from the bottoms of our feet to the top of our heads. Those that study these things put it down to better nutrition or better medicine - we no longer consider The Four Humours, Phrenology, Systematic Bleeding, or prescribe cigarettes for stress as sound medical practices.
I guess I'm one of those who has benefited from modern medicine and nutrition being 6'1" (185 cm give or take).
Last year, when I was going into a closet, my head hit the jam so hard it peeled off a pelt of skin and fur on the door jam. It looked like it could have come from a squirrel caught in something from the Spanish Inquisition. I had to peel it off of the crossbeam. The gash in my head bled like a neverending bloodletting ceremony from the Middle Ages.
Unfortunately, household harmony suffers a bit when we discover my pillow looks like Hannibal Lecter used it for a drop cloth or a napkin. Beautiful white linen pillowcases stained with copious amounts of Scott's internal operating system can send the day into a quick tailspin.
We have resorted to using black pillowcases on my side of the bed. It's not like it solves the problem, but is undoubtedly a step I'm willing to take for peaceful coexistence.
In a roundabout way, what I'm trying to say is I hit my head again today. Not too bad; it was a relatively light tap, but it did draw blood.
Tonight, we are going back to the: "Black Pillowcases Of Shame." I will hang my head and accept my lot, because, well, it's just who I am: Shrek.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
T - 270 DAYS
This week it's an artist whom I only know by his initials and the back of their head. I'm stumped. I think it's a guy because of the haircut and I think I spotted a bit of facial growth or a beard, so I'm going with that. I apologize if I'm wrong. Nevertheless, I love the art he produces. His moniker is CJP.
Even though CJP's work is very detailed, I mean, there must be a microscope involved to see some of the details he draws. Yup, it's all using scratches on paper. I know, wild, eh?
Look at this video. How he uses an ordinary pen to scratch images into being.
As an example of work, take a look at one of the pieces CJP has done called Rewilderness where he hides little critters away in a perfectly rendered pine cone. You can appreciate the perfection from afar and then hone in on little bits and pieces. I love looking for those little nuggets.
I love discovering new things that people do with their art. CJP is one of those artists I follow because I'm never quite sure what inventive this or that he'll put into his artwork.
If you want to see more of his talent on display, you can visit him at the following site over the inter-web.
Now, go out and make some ART!