Wednesday, December 28, 2011

White elephant

 Here are the pointy shoes and hat that Kim ended up with at the Jerus white elephant gift exchange the weekend before Christmas.  Apologies for the crummy photo, but Kim's adorableness makes up for it.

Riding helmet


Painting a horse

 I've drawn horses before, but I've never drawn *on* a horse.  Here's my daughter painting a horse.  All the kids at the birthday party, about a month ago, took turns.  Quite a canvas. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

House portrait

I logged a bunch of drawing hours the past couple of nights, scrambling to get this finished.  Now I’m very tired, but I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out, and happy to be done.  This is 11 x 15 inches, drawn with several brands of disposable and semi-disposable pens, as well as sumi ink and brush.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Latest house portrait

Such a pretty little house! This is black walnut ink on paper, about 8 x 10 inches.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New things

New things to me, at any rate.

1. The word "concerning." Of course I've heard the word all my life, but over the past year--and I'd swear, never before about a year ago--I've been hearing it used to mean "alarming" or "disturbing" or "unsettling," as in "News of all the burglaries was concerning to me," or "My cholesterol levels are quite concerning." I've always heard, and said, "I'm concerned," or "That concerns me," but I don't remember anyone using "concerning" that way till recently.

2. That "I saw three ships come sailing in" song. I'd swear I never heard that until a year or two ago, four at most. Is it new? It doesn't seem like it would be.
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Wanted overseas

The King of Thailand is a giant asshole.  He is a major jerk and a waste of oxygen. The Queen of Thailand is a vampire twit parasite, and also ugly.  I say this.

I guess I better not ever go to Thailand.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Artist statement, finished, for now

 Here's my first completed artist statement.  I've never before actually completed one to my satisfaction, but I needed to turn one in with my submission to the Mazin Annual Art Exhibition at the Jewish Community Center, so I worked this out as best I could.  It's specific to my pen & ink work.

"Of art media, I love oil paint, but a few years ago I became curious about making my own black walnut ink. I was quickly drawn into pen & ink.  Almost without intending to, I developed a sideline of drawing house portraits, and recently began working on a series of Louisville landmarks.

"The whole process of working with ink intrigues me; making ink, experimenting with homemade drawing tools, watching how the ink changes as it dries, and building up drawings with layers of pen marks and brush strokes.  Most especially, I love to look at that borderline between the whole work and its component marks--to be far enough away to see the illusion of the whole image, but close enough to see how the illusion is constructed."

"I am most satisfied with my art when I use it to document my experiences and explore my environment while also seeking nuance and subtlety in my medium.  I primarily see this exploration as intellectual, as opposed to emotional, though it is based in my sense of wonder and appreciation for nature's beauty.  My favorite subjects are landscapes and old architecture, but I prefer to combine both.  Places and things that have been worn or aged by both nature and humans catch my eye, and I always want to learn the history of the area in which I draw or paint.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gift idea

Here's something I completely forgot to add to my gift wish list! A weed whacker! Mine is broken!
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Blog

I have considered the idea for quite a while, and now I've finally done it.  I have started a second blog for my artwork:

I'll still post to this blog, and I'll still post art stuff on this blog.  However, I've noticed ever-increasing traffic on this site relating to my art activities, and I think for both professional and personal reasons it's better for my artwork to have a blog just for itself.  This blog never really was an art blog, it's just a blog about me, and it often has my artwork.

There will be a lot of cross-over, but for professional reasons it's past time that I had a dedicated art blog.

Art, Books, Cooking

I just finished a new house portrait, this time in walnut ink; but photos will be unavailable to post for quite a while.  So that's what I've been working on.
I have another house drawing to get to work on, and this one needs to be done in the next two or three weeks.  This will be black and white, which usually seems to go a little bit faster.
I settled on The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver as my next book.  I'm about fifty pages in and enjoying it so far.
Today, Erin's class is having their "Taste of Kentucky" celebration, and Erin volunteered to bring an entrĂ©e.   She wanted to make burgoo.  Why?  I don't know. Maybe because it's a funny name.
We had never made burgoo before, but we sure made it last night.  All recipes for burgoo are big.  I picked out a recipe that didn't seem too difficult and didn't contain any ingredients that I thought were particularly repellent, and bought supplies at the store last night.
The recipe didn't say how many servings it made, and I'm a bad judge of quantity, but I should have been a little more prepared for the volume. I knew it would be a lot…but by the end of the evening, we had filled our three largest pots and had them all simmering on the stove.  (The biggest hint that I missed: the recipe called for four large onions.  What kind of recipe calls for four large onions?  If people just ate onions, then four large onions would be twelve servings in and of themselves.  And onions go a long way.  So "four large onions" should have been a tip-off that this was going to overflow a single pot.  I mean, I knew there was a pretty good chance that I'd have to branch out to a second pot.  I thought it was likely, in fact.  But three?  Sheesh.
Erin did a lot of work.  I had her peel the tomatoes after I briefly boiled them to loosen their skins.  She also cut up the matchstick carrots into smaller bits, peeled onions, and diced potatoes with a sharp knife until I got so nervous watching her that I made her stop.  And, of course, she dumped ingredients in and stirred.
Late last night I decided that it was done enough to sample, and ended up eating three small bowls.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

and another

 Add to my book list below the following: Leaving the Atocha Station, by Ben Lerner.  Just heard a review on the radio, sounds very interesting.


I need get back into reading again.  For about a year, ending last spring, I was doing fairly well.  I read a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and really enjoyed it.  However, over the past six months I've really only been reading on the internet and in magazines.
There are a lot of books I want to read, but the process of getting into a book is difficult for me due to distractions. And by distractions, I mean, other priorities.  Whenever I think of starting a book, I always feel like there are more important things for me to be doing.
I feel that less with non-fiction, because with non-fiction, I can at least use the excuse that it's educational.  Therefore, it's easier for me to pick up books on art, history, or science.
Non-fiction, to me, is primarily entertainment; and while I acknowledge that it's just about the most deeply absorbing entertainment there is, it's also a magnificent time investment.  That means when I'm in bed thinking of reading, I'm likely to decide instead to just watch TV for 15 minutes until I fall asleep, or skim a magazine article, or just sleep.  Or watch part of one of the backlog of movies I've wanted to watch.
Now that daylight is short and temperatures are dropping, I think I'll invest more time in reading. Wish me luck in that.  Here's a random list of some of the things I've been wanting to read:
The Poisonwood Bible by whatserface
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Huckleberry Finn (re-read)
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
History books about the Greeks, Romans, and the Mediterranean area generally; I have a couple to read
Bible and New Testament research such as Who Wrote the Gospels
That cute little biography of Squire Boone that I bought at the Squire Boone Caverns gift shop
Moby Dick
Non-fiction books on Israel and Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan
…just to name a few.  There are lots more.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Two pictures


Next painting subject

I have two more house portrait commissions in the works, so if it's cold or rainy this coming weekend, I guess that's what I'll try to focus on.  Commissions should take precedence, right?
I also want to get in some more painting.  I'm happy with how that last one turned out, and I'm itching for more.
However, I don't know what the subject will be.  Here's how my internal debate runs: I want to work outside, but the weather this weekend might not be so great.  I want to work larger, but that requires perhaps a little more time, and makes finding room to finish up at home a little more difficult.  I also have an idea I've been thinking about for a couple of years, but it would be working from a photograph (and so can be done indoors) and would be more detailed, and so require more planning and more sessions to complete.  I can save that one for when it's definitely too cold to work outside.  But I like working outside because ventilation is an issue in the house, besides the fact that there's not a lot of elbow room.  The trees outside are interesting right now, and they would be kind of nice to work with.  But I haven't settled on a subject, so I'll probably need to do some driving and looking around to figure out what I'll do. This could waste a whole day. I also want to mess around with other subjects. I'd like to paint a giraffe or some other animals, which I can do from my own photo references. I want to paint some buildings.  I want to work on a small canvas because it's quicker and more portable, and I want to work on a large canvas because it's more versatile and dramatic and, if successful, satisfying.  I want to work on something that someone might want to buy, but most of the subjects to which I'm most attracted are things that most people wouldn't consider great subjects to hang in their houses.
So… I don't know.  Regardless, I stretched a canvas this weekend.  I'm not sure what size, something around 24 x 36.  I also cradled and primed a panel to paint on.  It's around the same size.  Those are larger than the several canvases I already had prepared, which are all kind of small.
I also have some very irregular sized pieces of panel that I'd like to prime and paint.  I'd have to think hard about how to use them, because they are long and skinny (around 8 x 24 inches). 
Besides all that, I also have another pen-and-ink drawing idea to work on for myself, and to be later turned into prints for sale.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

"Big Rock - Beargrass Creek" reproductions

 I had prints run of my pen and ink drawing of Big Rock in Cherokee Park, and now I can offer them for sale!  The image is 10.5 inches x 17.5 inches, on 12 x 18 inch paper.  $18 each.  I'm very happy with how the reproductions came out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Floyds Fork landscape, done

Here's the painting I started at the park in Middletown; I put a few finishing touches on it on Halloween afternoon.  I'm pretty happy with it.  It's 16 x 20 inches, on canvas.
I've got to finish getting all Halloween references out of my system.  Here's another:  One of my very favorite things that I experienced this past Halloween was during the parade in St. Matthews on Monday evening.  Right at the end, at the parade destination, I heard a small brass band of high school students (I'm not sure what school, but I suspect Waggener) perform a strikingly slow, somewhat off-note rendition of Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from the Peer Gynt Suites.  It was simultaneously cute and sinister, awful and stirring.
And another: I got a real kick out of Jill running excitedly from house to house, skipping and whistling in her Frankenstein's monster outfit, and yelling out to me, "Let me know if you see any candy on the ground that someone dropped! And if I don't hear you, just pick it up and put it in my basket!"

Science is a scam!!!!!!

Costume Contest link

Paul's Zombie Claus is 4th in the slide show, and I'm a little farther along.

More Halloween

 On Halloween evening we went to Len's neighborhood for the Halloween parade and some trick-or-treating.  Here is a photo of Jill and me walking in the parade (actually, trying to intercept the parade at it's destination, since we got there a little late).  Then we went to my parents' for a little while.  We got home late, and I lit the jack-o-lantern on our porch, even though it was well past trick-or-treating time in our neighborhood.
This little pumpkin from our garden glowed right through his skin.

4th Street Live! Halloween Costume Contest (part 4)

The purple people eater was my favorite costume of the night.  You can see the woman's head and arm hanging outside of the costume, giving the appearance that the beast has her in its clutches.  The costume was huge.  I asked her if there was another person in there with her, and she said no, but the back of the costume was built onto a cart to support its weight so she could just roll around with it.  Regardless, this is another costume wasn't particularly mobile.  She didn't move around much.
I asked her if she made it herself, and she said her mom did most of the sewing.  It looked like a lot of work.  I don't know what the "fur" fabric was built on top of.
I think she should have won a prize, but I don't think she would have made it up onto the stage.
The other picture shows two of the many people who asked me to be in a picture with them.
There were quite a few costumes that were great, but I didn't get photos of.  There was a group that came as the Sherman Minton Bridge, there were two great looking silver-skinned aliens with silver basketball heads, some overly-tall techno-demons, Colonel Sanders with fangs, a guy in a Tron suit, quite a few very well made up witches, a woman who could place herself into a life-size cardboard Barbie doll box, and lots more.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

4th Street Live! Halloween Costume Contest (part 3)

 There were a few costumes that were as big or bigger than mine.  The contest's grand prize winner was a giant werewolf, which was a guy on quadruped stilts.  The movements were creepy, and he was enormous.  There was also a winged demon who was almost as tall as me.  He was in the center of our tall-guy group photo, but he walked off (and can be seen in the photo at far left) before Paul could get the photo.  He looked quite creepy, and could spead out his wings very wide when he wanted.
Then there was the lady in the peacock costume.  She had a long, very colorful train behind her, which rendered her a little immobile.  Paul talked with her and learned that she never had sewn before she made her costume.  Her feathers were spread out wide, and her mask was painted plaster.  She looked great.

4th Street Live! Halloween Costume Contest (part 2)

More costume contest photos.  One shows some "steampunk"-inspired outfits. They guy with the pipe told me he was "steampunk Han Solo."
Also, Beetlejuice and the striped worm.  The lady in the worm outfit made her costume out of paper mache. I was impressed. If you look closely at the worm's throat, you can see the lady's eye peeking out. 

4th Street Live! Halloween Costume Contest (part 1)

 On Saturday night I went downtown to the 4th Street Live! costume contest.  Paul, who was dressed as Zombie Claus, went with me. I regret that I don't have any good pictures of him, but I bet I can get him to forward me a photo of himself.
Going in, I thought I had a decent chance at a cash prize, but I wasn't even a finalist.  There were perhaps a couple of thousand people down there, with a large percentage of them in costume; and of that percentage in costume, a significant fraction of them were what I would call "really done up."  I only got photos of a few of the good ones, and I'm thankful to Paul for his assistance in snapping photos.  He was great as my spotter all around, letting me know if I was getting to bump into someone.
These first photos show Frankenstein's monster, who looked pretty decent, and two guys dressed as the extraterrestrial hunters from the "Predator" movies. They looked very good, and were finalists in the "Best Couple or Group" category.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

This was one of only two pumpkins in our garden that grew to adulthood, and the only that was fully orange by Halloween. He was happy to get carved, can you tell?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Costumes and pumpkins

I recently learned that there is a large costume contest down at 4th Street Live! this weekend; I think I'll head down to compete.  Maybe, with a little luck, I can turn my Halloween-themed work into a cash prize.  The only trouble is, I'm not sure I'll actually be able to enter any of the establishments in-costume without bumping light fixtures.
I'm really not very familiar with 4th Street Live! since I don't have little money or time to spend drinking in downtown nightspots.  Therefore, I'm not too certain of the layout.  I'm guessing walking around in my costume would be a little more awkward than walking in the Baxter Avenue Halloween Parade.
I'd love to see what other costumes show up; I bet competition will be stiff.  In light of that, I may have to do some tweaking of my own outfit before the weekend.  I'm thinking of adding an eerie glow to the inside of my skull, some painted decorative trim to the robe, and improving the paint job on the chain.  Maybe I'll add a little ornamentation.
Yesterday I went to my girls' school and gave an art class demonstration on pumpkin sculpting.  I brought a couple of pumpkins that I had started, and let the nine or so kids in the class finish them off.  We ended up peeling the skin off the backs of the pumpkins, too, so that there were a total of four faces to work on.  The kids really sailed into them, gouging and scraping.  They seemed to enjoy it.  Only two of my fine-point tools were broken, which is better than I dared to hope beforehand.  I had fun with it.
By yesterday afternoon, I felt a little burned out on pumpkin sculpting, but it's coming back.  I could do another tonight, if I had time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin sculpting

 I tried my first sculpted pumpkin last Halloween; it was crude, but I was pleased with the results.  This photo is of my second attempt, last night.  It, too, is crude. I need to refine my technique.  I like it, and I'm proud of it, but it's far from the dazzling, polished ones you can find online.
I also need to get some better tools.  I hope I can find some that don't cost too much.  My one ribbon sculpting tool started falling apart last night (I'll have to try super-gluing it, and maybe sharpening it.)  Reading on the internet also just taught me that a scouring pad would really help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free book

My friend Ed alerted me to this free on-line collection of short stories, readable as a PDF file.  I've only read the first couple of stories. Odd, slightly ghastly fun. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dining room table artwork

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Halloween costume and parade

Well, I finally walked in the annual Baxter Avenue Halloween Parade this year. My dad helped out; not only did he hold the chanin that was around the neck of my 10-foot-tall monster, helping me present a ferocious appearance, he also helped out in driving back from the end of the parade, and provided back-up in case I had costume trouble. It was very helpful to have a "spotter" to let me know if I was falling too far behind the float in front of me, or to let me know if there was someone I needed to pay particular attention to (or avoid) along the route, or to simply point out an object I might trip over. The costume is manageable as a one-person affair, but assistance really makes it easier.

We got a few photos, but it was dark and people were moving, so the pictures aren't great. The last photo here is actually from last year. The first one is from the parade last Friday.

I've been trying to find a few photos of my costume as it was under construction, but I think most of them are on our external hard drive at home, and that is inaccessible right now because our home computer is out for repair. I do have, however, a picture of the arm being made. As you can see, it's made with a framework of scrap wood and cut-up wire coat hangers. To this, I hot-glued cardboard and shreds of cloth. I used lots of hot glue. Then I added a little paint.

The head of the costume is a plastic pretzel bucket to which I glued stiff packing foam, sculpted to a general skull shape.. Over that went a few layers of paper mache, then latex caulk, then paint.

The whole skeleton is scrap wood held together by screws, with eye-screws and carabiners for articulated joints. The beige fabric is an old bed sheet combined with the remains of the fabric from a collapsible gazebo that was destroyed in the Hurrican Ike windstorm, given to us by the Schrodts; most of the black fabric is a sheet given to me by the Ailstocks. It's held on by glue and staples.

It's awkward, and I worked up a bit of a sweat in the parade, but it's really not very heavy or uncomfortable. I guess my years of on-and-off planning and experimentation paid off in that regard.

I keep getting ideas for improvements, or for whole new costumes. I'd love to make others in the same vein, if I only had the time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This was a great find for me.  I picked up this ancient Roman at the coin show last weekend for $8, which I think was a great price, considering the detail and full legends.  The photos don't do it justice: in real life, it has a nice, even, clean look to it, although it's very dark (I think someone cleaned it with olive oil, which often darkens old bronze.)

Anyway, it was unattributed when I bought it, but the legends are so clear that researching it was quite easy.

This was minted under Emperor Licinius sometime around AD 321-324.  It was minted in Heraclea, in present-day Turkey, on the Black Sea.

The legend on the obverse ("heads") reads: IMP C VAL LICIN LICINIVS P F AVG, which is the abbreviated "Imperator Caesar Valerius Licinianus Licinius, Pius Felix Augustus."  The portrait strikes me as having a little more natural feel than some of the ones I've seen.

The reverse says IOVI CONSERVATORI, or "Jupiter the Protector," and depicts Jupiter holding a statue of Victory. To his right is an eagle holding a wreath, and to his left at his feat is a captive.  Beneath his feat, in exergue, is the mint mark: SMHA, representing Sacred Money of Officina A of the Heraclea mint.

Next to Jupiter is an X over II plus a broken I, referred to as "mu" (as in the Greek letter.)  This is the denomination: 12 ½.  The thing is, nowadays, no one really knows for sure: 12 ½ of what?

Licinius ruled a divided empire. Toward the end, his big rival was Constantine the Great. Licinius held out for quite a while (he became emperor in 308), but Constantine was always looking for ways to undermine him.  In 324, after a war, Licinius was captured, but briefly spared due to the pleading of his wife, Constantine's sister. A year later Constantine had him hanged on suspicion of plotting against him.

Ah, history.


Two nights ago I got a call from a lady affiliated with the annual Baxter Avenue Halloween Parade.  She was apologetic; she was having to call everyone who had signed up for the parade and explain to them that the reason parade starting details (float order, starting point, that sort of thing) had not yet been sent out because the parade organizers were scrambling to find a new venue.  Their normal starting point and the Midcity Mall was unexpectedly unavailable, and they were trying to work it out.  I hope they do.
The day before yesterday I worked a little on my Halloween costume.  It's the same as last year, but I had to replace a carabiner that held an elbow together; it had been taken out for one of the girls to use at day camp this summer.  I also added a little more paint to the fabric in front.
I also bought a long plastic chain to go with it.  The chain was white, but I spray painted it. I decided on black, since I could also use black on the fabric, and it was cheap.  I'm afraid it might have been too cheap, because I don't know if it is adhering well enough.  About an hour after I sprayed it, I could easily scrape it off with my finger nail.  Maybe a little more drying time has helped "cure" it, but I have my doubts.
In spraying all the paint, I got a newfound respect for graffiti artists/vandals.  My wrists are sore from holding down the button on the spray can.  How could my arms be sore from spray paintings?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Metal detecting on lunch break

 The past two days, I metal detected on my lunch break in a yard near where I work.  The house, which is now a business, is one of the older homes on the street it's on, but it's hard for me to gauge the age; I'd guess it was built in the 40's.  The first day, I only found scrap and nails and a car ignition switch. 
Yesterday, I found another car ignition switch, and small piece of metal from a Packard (I assume that's what it is, since it has the word "Packard" stamped on it), a 1950-D cent that would look really nice if it weren't all dinged up on the reverse, and an 1873 British penny that is very, very worn.
I feel pretty confident that the British penny was lost more recently than 1873, and it's too worn to be of use in any coin collection, but it was still fun to find.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Another house portrait

I have completed the black and white version of the same house I drew in black walnut ink before.

This was done on Bristol paper with Pigma Microns, a Staedtler pigment liner, and sumi ink wash. It's about 8 x 15 inches.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cover up

I saw this on the BBC web site yesterday, and I wondered about it, but didn't read the news story.  It just caught my eye because I (vaguely) wondered why a farmer somewhere would be talking to a famous young pop star about a government conspiracy to hide the facts.  I figured she must be in Africa or someplace (the picture looked like that, to me) on some humanitarian outing.
Then I saw this again today and realized, rightly, that some guy was just telling her to wear more clothing.
I can't name any Rihanna songs, by the way, and I'm not entirely sure I'm pronouncing her name right.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Five Churchill Downs wedding photos

My youngest brother married his wonderful bride this past Saturday at Churchill Downs. Right now, all I have are some low-res photos from my phone camera; these five are the best, I think. We have more photos on our regular camera, and look forward to seeing every else's photos, too.

My favorite of these is of the five standing as a group at the open gate.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Plein air painting

Here are some work-in-progress shots from last Friday, when I painted out in Middletown.  There's a pretty park out there.  I think I'm off to a good start with this, and I'll be able to finish it at home.
I walked around the park a little before I left.  In one spot, where they are doing construction, I had fun looking around the unearthed chunks of broken limestone for fossils. There were lots of them.  I brought some home to show the girls.
It a little thrilling to think that these ancient signs of life--from when, 300 million years ago?—remained completely hidden and preserved in remarkable detail, and then accidentally unearthed, and I was the first person ever to lay eyes on them.
I think I also located one or two former house sites that I could metal detect.