Christmas is sneaking up on me yet again. It's like Elmer Fudd stalking Bugs Bunny. Waskelly Wabbit!
I don't often send Christmas cards. I want to but I never seem to get it done. Then it gets too late. Then I feel like a total failure.
Please don't tell anybody. Let's just keep it our secret.
I envy people who have the discipline to send out Christmas cards. Part of my problem is I don't have a very good or up-to-date address list. For Christmas cards you need addresses. Okay - I'll use that excuse this year. (again)
Now, look at me, Christmas has tip-toed in yet again. It's really too late to post anything. But it's not too late to let you know that I appreciate knowing you. I appreciate hearing about your ups and downs and life's little miracles.
Please consider this my Christmas card to you. I am thinking about you. I'm making plans, as I always do, to be more successful next year.
So I hope you have a very Merry Christmas with tinsel and trees and garland and lights and baubles and turkey and potatoes and ... and ... and ...
Whatever you celebrate, and I hope you do,
I hope it's a grand time and a big to do.
We don't have much time on this tiny rock
Put on your bestest festivist partyist frock.
Find time to be kind to folks on that day.
It makes this life worth living in every way.
Be kind to your neighbors, be kind to your friends
Be the kind of person you'd like to know in the end.
Celebrate the passing year with greatest of cheer
And remember we can all do much much better next year!
Becoming unique is so incredibly difficult.
When I started drawing I was just trying to be good enough. I would practice and practice to see how well I could represent something that was real. After that I started to try to draw things that suited my eye a bit more. I guess I'm still there trying.
There's lots of advice on the internet and a lot of it is completely useless.
I found a piece of advice that I think I can put into practice though. They said that you need to try as many styles as you can until you come up with something that is uniquely you. Something that is recognizable as your own.
You know a Picasso or a Matisse or a Van Gogh when you see it.
If you look at some of the early work from those pioneers, you can see that they experimented with different styles until they came up with something that was uniquely their own.
I guess a unique style grows out of all your blood, sweat and tears. You have to put in the work.
Some resonate with you. Some don't.
I have learned that I just have to keep on trying until something pops out.
I don't think I have it all figured out totally but I'll keep on trying until I do.
This little something popped out recently. I like it cause it makes me happy.
Sometimes, I let the inner cacophony block me from getting things done. Often that little weevil masquerades as confusion.
My mind wanders and eventually I give in to procrastination. I imagine confusion is just another way to procrastinate. At the end of the day nothing has been done and I am left feeling sad I could'nt accomplish what I wanted.
I'm afraid I do have a bit of a problem concentrating. I'm like a dog chasing a squirrel who sees something shiny and wants to chase that too. Wanting both the car and the shiny thing, the dog sits in the middle of the road until the danger of an oncoming bus stirs it from it's inertia.
I've read about how to cure or at least deal with procrastination. Making lists, setting a specific time aside to accomplish a task, don't get distracted by the internet.
All of those suggestions are rubbish is you can't keep a promise to yourself.
It all comes down to keeping a promise to yourself. If you write something on the list you have to commit to doing it.
I suppose it comes down to how much value you put on your time and what you want to accomplish.
In the past I've found that if I:
1. write it down it things more likely to get done..
2. review my list I know what needs to happen.
3. I know where I'm heading the tasks take on more purpose.
I try to keep these things in mind but it is a constant struggle.
But, really, in the end - if you can't keep a promise to yourself you won't accomplish a thing.
Luckily, I know people who are very helpful and keep me on track.
We're on the move again. Just set to jet off to England. I am looking forward to a festive Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I was able to spend the day with my Dad on Thanksgiving Day. As I have said before, he's getting up there in years. This makes two years in a row I was able to spend Thanksgiving with Dad and Peggy.
These like times get more precious as age has not only taken a foothold but has begun to effect noticeable changes. I suppose you can only hold the whole thing together so long.
This Thanksgiving I feel grateful I've been able to spend more time around Dad. I've actually spent more time around him in the last 6 months or so than I have since I was 19 years old.
As we get on with our own lives and get absorbed with work and play and other necessities.
I keep thinking about Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle".
With my own very wonderful children I try to be available but not meddling. If they need me I will be there but I don't want to interfere. They both have fun and interesting lives.
I am grateful for the relationships in my life. I have been fortunate to have some very good friends and a wonderful family. I am also very grateful for the people in my life who teach me self-control, patience and compassion.
I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. I did.
This last February we were in England for a family funeral. It was a difficult time as you might expect. There was also lots of down time.
To stave off boredom and not dwell on the situation too much, I picked up my iPad and a stylus and started drawing.
It was so much fun — the drawing not the funeral.
No great expectations were floating around in my head because I hadn’t done much drawing on the iPad up until then. It was only to pass the time.
Turns out I really enjoyed drawing on the iPad. My hands didn't get dirty, there was no washing up afterwards and I didn't get chastised for getting paint on the floors / walls / ceiling / anywhere it wasn't supposed to be. I have to tell you, if you have a the slightest bit of Alizarin Crimson oil paint anywhere on your body it will show up in the most unlikely and unwanted places. Then you end up having to scrub the sheets, the floors, and your body with paint thinner. I wasn't a very popular person that day.
It was exciting to get used to how the stylus did it’s thing against the iPad. Learning mode is fun.
Have you ever heard of an artist called David Hockney? He’s pretty well known. Hockney was part a gaggle that slummed with Andy Warhol at his famous “Factory” in the 1960s.
He says he draws something on his iPad every morning and sends it to his friends. The inspiration to draw on my iPad came from his practice.
What a great idea! I started out doing a drawing a day. It lasted about three months and then became a bit much.
Plus, I got side-tracked a bit.
My dad’s getting on in years - he’s got 89 of ‘em stacked one behind the other right now. Inevitably, at that age, things start to go a bit haywire.
We're in the process of moving to Sun City Grand in Arizona to be close to dad and help out if needed.
I’m lucky I can pick up and move here to be closer to him.
Over the last couple of months I’ve started settle down a bit and have got back on track with the writing, drawing and postings. It feels pretty good to be back in the saddle.
My goal is to post a drawing and some thoughts once a week. That seems sustainable. I guess sometimes they’ll be more complex than others but I hope they’ll all be enjoyable.
Sustainable, to me, is better than something that I might burn out on.
This little drawing is inspired by Sun City Grand.
Jeremiah may have been a bullfrog and he might have been able to drink some really fine wine but he couldn't chase and catch a ball.
Scout is a very good friend of mine though and I don't often understand what he says and he does some really confusing things all the time. Sometimes he zigs when he should zag. Sometimes he's the ornery cuss who steals my shoes and won't give them back. However, he is always excited to see me and loves to fetch a ball.
Scout is getting on in years now. I think he's about 10 and that's pretty old for a Cocker Spaniel. He's not my dog but he owns two other humans. They take really good care of him. I'm sure he appreciates them. They treat him like a king and I'm sure he deserves it.
I did a little drawing of him cause I was thinking of him at the time. I am grateful for our friends and I am grateful they let us watch their dogs at times when they've gone away.
Dogs add a real presence to a house and they are missed when they're gone. Why is that?
It really doesn't matter. I just like it. Do you really have to have a reason for liking something. You either like it or you don't.
So I give this drawing to you for your amusement and pleasure. This is Scout, my friend. I can't wait to see him again.
Scout has a really good friend named Jasper. A story for another occasion. Today is Scout's day. BTW - I happen to get called Scout - a lot. He sometimes gets called Scott, I hope he's not offended.
In the mountains just north of the Mediterranean and south of Granada lives a small village called Pampaneira. It is one of a trifecta of villages in the Alpujarras. The other two towns are Bubión and Capileira. You can tour Pampaneira on foot from end to end in about 10 - 15 minutes. It's very laid-back. Just the kind of place I love.
We walked to Pampaneira from Bubión for coffee and cake one afternoon. Every day, stores put their colorful wares out on display. It steeps the whole place with a sense of calm and activity all at the same time.
This store caught my eye and I just had to draw it.
If you visit Pampaneira's wikipedia page you will see just how small the town is. According to the 2005 census the population there is 355 souls, some feral cats, a pack of stray dogs, a few goats, a handful of sheep and a host of touristy shoppy thingies. I think the entire population was out the day we breezed into town. The center square was buzzing.
You will see lots of hikers along the trail there. The town is along the GR7 route which is nearly 9,000 km long. It is the longest trail in Europe and we saw a steady stream of people hiking sun up to sun down.
This drawing brings back very nice memories of relaxing with a cup of coffee and watching the world go by.
I hope you enjoy my little Spanish Memory.
There are some things I miss now that I don't live in Dayton anymore. At the top of my list is seeing good friends I've made over the years.
Every time I make it back to Dayton, during football season, I get to meet up with long time and new friends for beer, wings and Monday Night Football. The group's been gathering on Monday night since the beginning of time. It's not really about football, its about sitting around with good friends in a friendly atmosphere and putting the world to rights. The composition of the group and the place changes a bit over time but, usually, once people start coming they stick around.
I also love the Summer Festivals like the Strawberry Festival in Troy, the Blues Festival in Lebanon, the Greek Festival in Dayton, the Italian Festival in Kettering, the Renaissance Festival in Waynesville and the Octoberfest at the Dayton Art Museum . There's always something to celebrate during the summer.
If you'd like to see a list of festivals in the Dayton area you can visit Culture Works cultureworks.org/festivals/. There are festivals to celebrate everything from the strawberries to sauerkraut to, of course, BACON. If you exist and draw breath you can probably find something to celebrate in Dayton, Ohio.
This year we made it just in time for Octoberfest; good beer - good music - fun festival food. They have a continuous roster of bands playing throughout the festival. Spungewurthy was playing the day we went. They are a very cool three man cover band that say they play mostly "dancey rock music". I like that description. They are fun and - yes - people do get up and get "dancey". We listened to the music, ate some very unhealthy food, and wandered the arts and crafts booths. Overall it was a relaxing and fun afternoon.
While I was watching the band - no my knees won't let me get "dancey" any more - I notice that the Dayton skyline was beautiful in the background against a clear blue sky contrasting with what I know of the last 20 years when the whole area had been under construction. You used to see enough orange barrels, construction equipment, hard hats and yellow tape to canvas the entire city. I remember it all being an eye-sore and it lasted over half a generation. I was so impressed with the new and improved view, I wanted to capture the image. So I did a drawing. It's what I do. Now I get to share it with you.
I'll miss it when I leave here but there are new adventures to be had, places to go, people to see and more stuff to draw. And ... like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "I'll Be Back".
Have a very artsy day.
Art is a product that is completely different than most products or services.
If you buy a painting, photograph, or sculpture it's probably because that work made an unconscious emotional connection.
There is the odd person who goes into a store and want to buy a light green drawing/painting because it goes with the wall color.
I guess environmental esthetics matter. But for me it is not the biggest concern.
There are lots of people who say they don't know anything about art but they know what they like. I guess it's kind of like that.
When I paint or draw - aside from the usual practice that I do it because I feel a connection with the subject matter or I just think - gosh it would be cool if.
I haven't been able to draw or paint as much as I would like of the last couple of weeks. I am working on something right now which is taking a bit longer than I would have expected. I have drawn a sketch and am trying to work it up in color.
I like drawing in pen and ink - one of my favorite things to do.
The drawing attached today is a sketch I did a few days ago of the Dayton skyline. I was at Octoberfest at the Dayton Art Museum and thought the skyline was stunning. It made an emotional connection with me.
I hope you enjoy.
One of the highlights this summer was our holiday to Spain. We stayed in a little town called Bubion in the Sierra Nevada nearish to Granada. The scenery was gorgeous.
In each little town we went you could sit on the avenue or in the square and have a beer or coffee or whatever struck your fancy.
One of the things I really liked was with each beer I ordered something yummy came . Tapas. Sometimes it was Jamón Serrano or a plate of olives or potatoes simmered with onions in good olive oil for god knows how long. Big smiles.
The pace of life in the mountains was unique. It was friendly and respectful and slow and business people seemed genuinely happy to see you show up at their shops.
I think that has something to do with the siesta culture. Most things close for several hours during the hottest part of the day.; mostly between 2pm and 5pm. When I was young my mother called it nap-time and I fought against it with all I had in me. Now, I see it as a perfectly civilized way of dealing with my inevitable mid-day food coma.
My Spanish is horrible. I was happy the people there were very patient with me.
In art the product needs to have meaning both to the producer and to the person experiencing it.
Personally, I like it when things take a bit of skill and thought to create. You can see craftsmanship in the work. You can see meaning. It touches you in some way.
This means something to me because I was there.
The welcoming feeling, the relaxed atmosphere and stress melting off you body like butter and jam dripping of toast in the morning is something we can all relate to.
All of that comes back to me when I look at this drawing.
It's like food for the soul.
As my little friend Oliver said, "... Please Sir, I want some more. "