Archive for July, 2011

I’m typing this on my Lion-enabled computer.  It’s taking some getting used to, scrolling “backwards” – scrolling up moves the screen down, now.  It’s like the iPhone and the iPad.  We just got back from Lawrenceville, and are both a bit tired and ready for bed.

Today was spent doing a number of travely bits.  We attended the farmer’s market for the second week in a row, and got more delicious farm-fresh vegetables.  Some honey, which I’m very much looking forward to using.  A few other items.  Then we traveled to the farm where we got our milk from, and saw happy cows in action, doing their cow-thing.  The farm is far out of our way, but I think it’s important to see where your food comes from.  It’s making me look at everything in a whole new light.  Why can’t 90% of our food be local – by which I mean, from within a day’s traveling distance?  I feel like everyone would be better off that way.  It seems that post-World War 2 industrialization had a lot to do with how our food and meats are now grown and processed.  I’m a little too tired to post specifics, but there are several books on real food that explain why agriculture and meat-processing became so industrial, and we lost a little bit of what amazing food we had before it happened.

In other news, I’m working on some Edward Gorey-inspired art.  Gorey was an incredible children’s book author and illustrator who passed away in 2000, and did very gruesome, ghastly, darkly humorous Victorian-inspired children’s stories.  The Unstrung Harp, The Curious Sofa, The Gashlycrumb Tinies – all these works and more were both written and illustrated by Mr. Gorey.  His art is unique and almost instantly recognizable, thanks to his style.  An example of the Gorey-inspired work is below.  If you’re interested, it will be in my Etsy shop upon completion, and I would love to do commissions in a similar style.  Leave a comment below with your email address or mail me at greylikestorms(at)gmail.com for more information.

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The last few days have been busy; my wife had a four day weekend off at work, so we spent as much time together as we possibly could.  On Wednesday we picked up some farm fresh milk and pastured eggs, and on Saturday we attended the Sandy Springs Farmer’s Market.  The market runs every Saturday from 8:30 to 12:30, and is located in the parking lot of an old closed Target on Roswell Road.

It was pretty great to see everyone out and about even though the day started off rainy and overcast.  Thankfully, the temperatures were down, and walking around outside was comfortable.  This was my first farmer’s market experience, and I enjoyed seeing the variety of vegetables and products on sale here.  We picked up a bunch of the best peaches I’ve ever had, some giant zucchini, some leafy greens, and a pastured chicken that will become dinner for us tomorrow night.

The Sandy Springs Farmer’s Market website:  http://www.sandyspringsfarmersmarket.com/index.html

After reading several books on real food we’ve been trying to adjust our diets to that lifestyle – eating vegetables that are in season and organically grown, getting pastured eggs when we can, and going for grass-fed meats.  That’s meant a lot of salads over the past week , which, it turns out, isn’t that bad.  I’ve been making a great salad dressing that’s tasty and simple all rolled into one.  There isn’t even any measuring involved!

Simple and Tasty Dressing:

olive oil

white wine vinegar

spices to season

honey

mustard

Take a bowl and add a splash of the vinegar and olive oil.  I think a 1:2  vinegar to oil ratio will probably work best.  Try to go for enough liquid to coat the salad leaves, but not leave a pool of dressing when you’re done with the salad.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, etc – dill works well – and add a tablespoon each of honey and mustard(Dijon works really well).  Take a whisk and whisk your dressing until everything has been incorporated into one smooth liquid.  Add your salad leaves to the bowl and toss until the greens are coated well.  This dressing depends a lot on personal taste, so feel free to experiment with the best ratios for everything.  

On the illustration front I’ve been doing more anatomy studies – I inked a pig’s skull and a bear’s skull from the Cyclopedia Anatomicae, and both turned out well for first attempts.  I did them in my Moleskine, which I’m finding works very well for these inked sketches.

In the Renaissance, artists were occasionally reduced to graverobbing in order to have access to bodies for their anatomy studies.  Understandably, the practice was highly frowned upon.  Thankfully, today we have a number of anatomy texts available so that we ourselves can lean on the shoulders of our predecessors, rather than spend the midnight hour with a shovel in the local cemetery.

The book I have is called the Cyclopedia Anatomicae, authored by Gyorgy Feher and illustrated in intricate detail by Andras Szunyoghy.  It is a giant book, with over 1,000 illustrations of anatomy.  It covers not only the human body, but also horses, lions, bears, sheep, pigs, and apes.  I was lucky enough to pick it up on super clearance at Barnes and Noble for $6, and to me is worth at least a thousand times that.

The past week or so I have been doing brief anatomy studies based on the illustrations in the book.  While I’ve only worked on the hand and arm so far, the illustrations in the book are clear enough to impart a basic understand through picture alone.  I pencil the bones onto my medium of choice, and then go over them in fine-point Micron pens to add detail and additional shading.  It is slow and precise work, but I rather like it.  It almost enables a sense of peace as you study the illustrator’s lines and then attempt your own.

I have been considering the idea of doing these types of illustrations as practice on Bristol paper, and then offering the inked versions for sale in my Etsy shop.  While the subject might be a bit macabre, the skeleton’s lines are clean and intricate, and would, I think, make a fine thing to hang on your wall.

I think that building a good reference library is important.  Having just gotten out of college, my own collection is still a bit scarce.  I own Realistic Figure Drawing by Joseph Sheppard, as well as Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm.  I hear that Andrew Loomis’ books are highly  regarded, and I also have my eye on James Gurney’s Color and Light and Imaginative Realism.  Anyone want to donate a few books to the artist’s cause?  *g*  I’ve been reading since I was a small kid, and I believe that a library should always grow.  I want my personal library to someday be a collection that contains knowledge on a variety of subjects, not just on art, but on history, science, and abstract ideas as well.  If I need some information on Subject Y, I want to be able to go to my bookshelf and at least find a book that gives me some ideas on where to find more knowledge about Subject Y.

A few examples of recent work:

Atlanta Roller Girls

Posted: July 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s a rough, physically demanding sport.  The matches are long, and the action is rough and tumble.  Lots of falls, pushing, bumps, skids.  The audience goes wild when the jammers start scoring.  And you get into it.  You fall hard, when you’re just attending your first roller derby, watching tattooed girls skate circles around each other for hours.  You start cheering for your favorites, and though it looks confusing at first, you quickly get the hang of the rules.

What am I talking about?  The Atlanta Roller Derby!  If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it.  Tickets are affordable, the matches are long, and the action is irresistible.  Kathryn and I had a chance to go last month, and it was worth every minute.  We debated not going, because we’d both had a long day and were tired and exhausted.  In the end we went, and were glad that we did.

You might have seen or heard about roller derby – two teams skate around an oval track, and the objective is to get your jammers – usually the fastest girls on your team – to pass the opposing teams’ members as quickly and often as possible.  The movie Whip It, based on a novel of the same name, is based on a girl who joins the roller derby in Texas.  Each match is two hours long, with a short break inbetween.  Depending on teams, the scores can go in the multiple hundreds.  Watching the action is exhilarating – each match may start off slow, but once the points start rolling in, it’s non-stop excitement.

Atlanta has several teams, and tickets, as I said, are affordable – ours were $12.50/person/match.  Not bad for 2 hours’ of excitement.

For tickets and other information, http://www.atlantarollergirls.com/site_admin/ has all the details you need.  If you’ve got an evening off, why not take a look?

I haven’t had many chances to sketch the past few days, which is bad.  BAD.  And I know it.  I won’t improve if I don’t sketch.  Part of the problem is that the internet is so accessible and there and omnipresent and I just can’t drag myself away from it.  It’s something that I really need to work on.  Badly.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Facebook, email, various forums… they all take time away from me that I could be sketching, and I know that, I really do.  But getting away from it all is difficult for me.  Someone suggested I try a voluntary exile – a day with no electronics at all.  I may give it a shot.

In the meantime, I tried sketching a tree while watching True Blood tonight.  I like the tree.  True Blood I’m not so sure about yet.  We’re two episodes in, and both Kathryn and I are very “meh” about it.

 

This should be subtitled “An Introspective”.

The past few months I’ve been listening to many episodes of the Drawn Today and W.I.P. podcasts, both of which are focused on fantasy and sci-fi illustration and narrated by groups of illustrators themselves.  I’ve always been partial to podcasts while I paint or sketch, rather than music.  It’s one of the few times that I can listen to something and absorb the material without being distracted.

Recently I’ve been considering making an attempt to become an illustrator, and by recently I mean over the last few weeks is when I started considering it.  Giving it thought.  Analyzing, very loosely, some of the pros and cons.  I graduated with a degree in technical theatre with a costume design emphasis, and while I didn’t get a fabulous grounding in the arts, I feel as if I’m at least a small step ahead of the curve thanks to costume and theatre design courses I’ve taken, and sketches I’ve had to do for projects.  I’m not nearly as well-versed in the art techniques as someone who solely focused on getting a fine arts degree, but I’m willing to learn.  I also believe that I can work on costume design and improve my costume illustration skills at the same time as non-costume illustration.  After all, says my brain, costume design feeds into fantasy illustration, and my progress toward freelance illustration work certainly would benefit from costume design opportunities.

I talked with Kathryn about the idea the other day, and she agrees that there are many ways that the two careers can go hand in hand.  I’m glad I have her support in this.  It’s not going to an easy road, but I believe that hard work will pay off, and that art and illustration is a skill that can be learned.  From reading the Drawn Today, W.I.P, and Muddy Colors blogs, I’m noticing a trend – that inspiration is everywhere, and that reference is OK.  I do need to work on drawing more, every day regardless of whether I’m feeling inspired or blah or under the weather.  I won’t improve if I don’t. And the number of subjects that I need to work on improving is almost mindboggling.  But at least I’m aware of that.

I’m going to be trying to update this blog more regularly, and even if I’m not able to post about cool places to be in Atlanta at least I’ll be trying to do some art posts every week.  I don’t own a scanner, so for now I’m taking pictures of my sketches with my wife’s DSLR.  You’ll be able to get an idea of where I’m going and how I’m progressing, and what techniques I’m working on.

A few examples of recent sketch work.  I’ve got a long way to go… but it should be a fun trip.

And a small painting of the skeletal hand that I did today:

I know it’s been too long since I’ve written anything, and I apologize.  Life, in that peculiar way that it has, decided to intervene.  Things Happened.  Including my marriage to my wonderful and beautiful wife in the middle of June, June 15th.  So I hope you’ll forgive a lapse in blogging, because June was a beautiful and exciting month.

Sometime early in June, Kathryn and I had planned to head to Little 5 Points, an artistic and eclectic area in downtown Atlanta, to meet a friend of hers and have dinner at The Vortex.  If you haven’t seen pictures of the Vortex, it’s a pretty unmistakeable location.  The entrance is a big skull, painted white with swirls of black, and the front door is inside the mouth.  It’s a great restaurant/bar.  Trivia is on Tuesdays, or was a few years ago, on my first visit to Atlanta.

Little 5 Points, or L5P, is always crowded, but especially so on weekend nights, and I want to say that it was a Friday when we went down and tried to get food.  We saw the huge line of people waiting to get into the restaurant, and decided to find a different place, Fox Bros. Barbeqeue.  Unfortunately, our quest for Fox Bros failed because we couldn’t find the restaurant.

As a fallback, we ended up at Savage Pizza, which is also in L5P and within easy walking distance of the Vortex.  Thankfully, they were open until 11, and it was nearly 10 when we arrived.  The place looks like it’s been open for ages, and we grabbed a table at the back.  It’s a small pizza place, and has pretty much what you expect as far as atmosphere goes.  It’s a wonderful place, and I’m already looking forward to going back.  The walls are painted yellow, as you walk in the smell of fresh-baked pizza hits you and makes your mouth water.  The menu has a variety of pizza choices, along with calzones and sandwiches and lasagnas.  Neither of us wanted pizza, so I ordered a calzone and Kathryn had the lasagna.  We both chose spinach-themed dishes.  I’ve had calzones before, but I wasn’t expecting the size of calzone at Savage Pizza.  It filled my entire plate, and I could only finish half of it before I was stuffed.  Not bad for $10.

We both left full and satisfied, a happy end to an evening that started slow and then got complicated, particularly while we were trying to find Fox Bros.

I’ve since tried my hand at making calzones, and I think they’ll become a staple recipe in my arsenal – they’re simple to make, filling, and don’t take too long, even with the dough-making process included.  My first attempt was broccoli and carmelized onion calzones with a cheesy sauce.  I want to say that I ended up with 4 huge calzones, which were enough to feed us for the next three days – the dough was very much a bread-like dough, and particularly filling thanks to that.