Another Sketch from Spider House

Here is another sketch from my sketchbook, that I did of the punk rocker at SpiderHouse. I’m planning on going out this week for some “live” painting, so stay tuned. Also, I will let folks know where I’ll be on Twitter. You can follow the tweets either here at my blog, or on Twitter. See you soon, I hope.

A Painting from the Studio

The photo was taken in my back yard several years ago.

Several years ago, I took pictures of some of my daughter’s high school friends. They had joined the school’s “Enviro Club”, only to find out that it meant cleaning up the leftover trash in the cafeteria. We all had a good laugh, and it lead to me thinking about a painting series (which I usually avoid). I wanted to capture some of that idealistic thinking that is unique to kids. I never proceeded.

I had some time to kill in the studio because I am prepping for some “live” work at a fashion show. I ran acrosss one of the photos, and decided to bang out this painting. I hope that you like it. More “live’ work very soon!

Big-Eyed Girl at Epoch

Big-Eyed, and slightly bored at Epoch.

I’m at my happiest when I can capture someone in less than ten minutes, as is the case here. She sported a summer cut, a style influenced by the French (I lived in Paris for 6 months almost 20 years ago). She had it blackened, it was straight, and shiny – a fantastic look that brought out those big eyes.

She was slightly bored. The young man that she with was busy with his work on his laptop. He actually had his laptop seated in his lap, and not the table. I might have painted him also, if I had the time, although he had a yellow T-shirt on. For some reason, and I know not why, I have developed an aversion to painting in yellow in my coffee house paintings. Which is odd, because two of my favorite coffee houses have yellow walls. If I knew more about color theory, the answer would be clear. Perhaps it is because I am painting in neutral cools – but you need the complimentary for intensity. So, all I know is that yellow is off my palette for the time-being.

He was in the Corner at Epoch

Lauren and I both did portraits of the guy next to us.

My friend Lauren Hamilton Levy and I set out for Epoch yesterday, and we got lucky – we found a pretty good table. The guy next to us, in the corner, was hunkered down for a long spell. He was very thin and East Coast in appearance. (We never wear NorthFace apparel in the summer). He was writing; I assume that the book to his right was some sort of reference work. I didn’t want to get caught staring, but I thought that I made the first word of the title out to read, “Shagura”. I was going to look up the full title when I got home. Well, I am stumped as to what he was reading. Anyone out there know?

He was Working the Crossword at the Spider House

He was in work attire, trying to complete the crossword in the local daily paper.

When he very first arrived during morning rush hour, I thought that he was going to be there for a very short time. I was wrong: he was still there, four hours later. My friend, Lauren, and I moved from our table behind him, and sat where we could see his face.

There were so many good subjects there that day. Lauren had names for all of them: “Sargent Rock”, “Viggo Mortenson”, and “Johnny Cash”. Of course, she has to talk with everybody – which just terrifies me. She shouts, “Hey, can I draw you?” I try to evaporate, duck under the table, or completely turn my back. She’s a founding member of our three-member ART CLUB, and a spectacular artist – much better than me. Right now, she has a show in Paris at some fancy institute right off the Champs-Elysees.

Anyway, I’ve been busy with commissions in the studio, so I’m posting some drawings from my sketchbook. My next project is this: I have some retail friends that want me to go and paint at their stores. I haven’t got around to it, and it really needs to be done. I’m excited about that – so if you know anybody who wants me to come in their establishment, they can reach me here by leaving a comment.

I Painted the Two Lovely Brothers at Spider House

These two brothers were so simpatico.

My brother and I had a horrible relationship growing up. We fought constantly. We had dirt clod fights (they hurt), grass spur fights, and we broke each other’s things (I stuck my finger through the wings of his radio-controlled airplane). The fights escalated after my dad died to such a level that the neighbors called the police after I chased him down the street with…well, I won’t tell you.

When you see harmony and brotherly love right in front of you, it is as if God chose that opportunity to smack you in the face with the beam in your own eye. Sometimes, we just can’t get over ourselves to get along, can we? Not the case here – these two brothers, five years apart, liked each other! They could chill with each other. The younger one had a deck of “magic cards”, that he was sharing with his brother. At one point, the little one reached over and hugged his brother. The teenager patted his little brother on the head. It was so touching and so real that tears came. I felt a true longing and vacancy. Relationship. What else is there?

As most of you know, I usually do my “guerrilla painting” on the spot in a freehand fashion. I don’t go back in later and pretty things up. But, this particular painting, although started “live”, was completed in the studio. Here’s why:

I have never accepted a commission on my “guerrilla” style, cafe paintings. In fact, I won’t sell them, or give them away, either.

So, when Leslie Langee got a hold of me on Twitter, and asked me to do a commission of her 2 boys, I thought that she was enquiring about my children’s pastel portraiture work (commissioned work from photographs). My agent contacted Leslie, and found out that she wanted a “live” painting at a coffeehouse of her two boys, ages 11 and 16. They worked out all of the details together. The boys would not be told that they were going to be painted. We chose the Spider House. Since the painting was 16×20 instead of my usual 9×12, and the mom wanted to be able to see the faces of both boys, I completed the painting in the studio, with the aid of a photograph.

I Sketched the Tattooed Woman at SpiderHouse

She was conducting business with Conrad

She was a very pretty woman. She and her partner were conducting business with Conrad. I overhead a bit of conversation – they were talking about signage, in the fashion of the tattoo.

The woman had several tattoos – the most prevalent was of a lioness.

I Sketched the Punk Rocker at Spider House

He was complaining to his agent

I’ve been working; some of you may be wondering. I have formed an art club with three artist friends that I worked with at Les Amis almost 30 years ago. At our weekly meetings, we have been going to Spider House, and drawing for 4 to 5 hours. They are not into painting, so I have been drawing with them “live”. It is good; we need to keep our hand and head healthy with this fine practice. So, instead of not posting at all, I have decided to post one of my many sketches that I have done with my good friends,  Lauren and Julie.

This guy was sitting in one of the broken gliders, discussing some issues with a very large Hispanic man. He must have been the punk rocker’s agent, as I overheard him complaining about another band member “Strangling my style”.

I Painted Russian Literary Scholar Sidney Monas

Sidney in his study, answering emails

My friends Tom and Linda have known Sidney for 30 years or so. Linda actually worked for Sidney, at the University of Texas, where they published and edited a Slavic cultural journal. Retirement can cause enough isolation, but Sidney’s hearing loss trapped a man who loves intellectual exchange into a solitary world, by comparison. We had very little conversation before or after the hour sitting.

What looked like a curse became a blessing: I had banged out Sidney’s profile and figure before leaving, and was going to finish the surroundings with the photo that I took. Well, I accidently erased the photo. Tom and I had to go back out to Claire (his wife) and Sidney’s again. When we arrived, Sidney was in the kitchen with Claire, and his daughter, Debra. He was animated, chipper, and charmingly engaged. You see, he had new hearing aids, and his full world was returned to him. We had the best conversation about Russian books, access to Russian Art, etc. He told me about this book that he was currently reading, titled “The Possessed” by a Turkish author, dealing with the hunt for Russian Cultural access. It was a great time, and I was so very happy to be able to talk with Sidney. If I hadn’t erased the photo by accident, I would not have had the opportunity for this second and wonderful meeting.

Yucking It Up Quietly at Epoch

They were snickering and collaborating over a website

Which one was the Mastermind of this collaboration? One of them may be the boss, but the creative genius seemed to be the guy to the left. He was working on some website, and occassionally, the sophisticated guy to the right would pop up and go look over his shoulder. They would snicker and shake with laughter – all done in dead quietness. Who wouldn’t be intrigued? I hope to see this team again.