Saturday, August 29, 2009

sketch dump: august/2009

Been keeping busy with the splotch monsters and squiggle critters this month. I think in September I'll return more to observational studies. The splotch monsters were all drawn this time using watercolor pencils and Micron pens, which explains why they aren't as splotchy as usual. I've got a ton more made this month but just never had the time to scan them yet, with returning back to school and all. Can't wait for Autumn and the cooler weather to arrive soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009


"Squiggle critters" in a dance-type situation - here I'm trying to perfect and evolve my style with these drawings. I ended up "remixing" this Moleskine page in Picnik for the Illustration Friday topic "magnify", since they remind me of little life forms one could only view through a magnifying glass.


Friday, August 21, 2009


The first thing I thought of when I saw the Illustration Friday prompt "caution" was Mr. Yuck, as well as those lights that go off near railroad tracks when a train is coming (but that's a whole other story in itself). Mr. Yuck scared the crap out of me as a kid, especially when the commercial would air. My parents were wise to put those stickers all over their household items when I was young. In the meantime, I chose to digitally alter another recent beastie from my ongoing Splotch monster series - one who could very well be Mr. Yuck's scarier cousin. Speaking of monsters, we have a winner from last week's Illo Friday drawing here at my blog. That winner is Stacey Merrill who hosts the Artsnark's Artifacts blog! So, congrats Stacey and a big thanks goes out to all who left a kind word and participated last week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

remembering annette

Earlier this month a dear friend of mine passed away after years of battling breast cancer. Her name was Annette Meyer, and she was someone who was a huge inspiration to those who knew her.

I met Annette through a summer art program about six years ago. We would carpool from Winchester, Virginia to Ashburn, VA. Despite the distance traveled each day, to and from this job, not to mention the horrible noise humming from my left rear wheel, the drive seemed to go by quickly with Annette around. It shocked and surprised me that this person, so full of energy and life, also had cancer. One of the many artistic avenues Annette traveled included the keeping of an art journal. They were the inexpensive kind you can find at your local Borders, or Barnes, but the pages were rich with color, lines, words, stories and daily observations, much of them dealing with her disease. Many of her pages served as catalysts for bigger ideas - sculptures, prints, tiles, you name it.

Annette's art was her therapy and in many ways, her friend of friends. Her art touched the lives of others as well, including women who were in the same situation as her. Annette shared her art, wisdom and knowledge with others through workshops and gallery shows, the latter of which left a lasting impression on my mind. When I took some Masters Degree-level sculpture classes with Annette, she was the one who always raised the bar, even during her chemotherapy. And yet, despite all this, she remained incredibly humble, and was always willing to help others and encourage them. More than anything, she was a story teller. Usually, by the end of a long night of class, after a week of teaching and an evening of pounding away at a stone, she'd have us all in stitches. Her sense of humor could only be described as wicked, and I believe she probably could have made a living telling jokes, in addition to being an artist.

One of the last times I hung out with Annette was during a trip to NYC over a year-and-a-half ago. She had an extra ticket to go see Mama Mia on Broadway, and I was fortunate enough to have been invited to tag along. I didn't think I'd like the play, but this was Annette, so I was sure it would be a fun time. To my surprise, Mama Mia was excellent, so our trip turned out to be a blast. We even went with her oldest daughter Kim to that fabric shop they feature on one of those reality TV fashion shows (Project Runway ?) to pick up material for Kim's wedding dress, which Annette planned on making herself. I remember telling my wife Kris (who was then my girlfriend) how Annette was like the energizer bunny, running us all over town, showing us the sights (she was a New Yorker herself, before coming to Virginia) and telling us stories. We could barely keep up with her! Unfortunately, shortly after that weekend, Annette's cancer had spread to her lungs, nearly taking her life in an instant and causing her to go into intensive care and physical therapy. Still, through all this, even while short of breath during phone conversations, she kept her sense of humor intact and saw light where there was darkness.

While many would have passed on far earlier, Annette was a true fighter and a lover of life. Her art, especially her journals, kept her going, in addition to the love from and for her family and friends. I talked with Annette about featuring her and her journal pages here in the Artist Spotlight, but the therapy and wedding plans took priority of course. I'll miss those days when, after a tiring day on the job, a handful of us art teachers, including Annette would get together at the local coffee house or bar for a laugh and a drink. It's easy to take those things for granted.

Fortunately Annette stayed alive to witness her oldest daughter get married earlier this summer. Also, my wife finally got to meet her, after so many times of me hearing her say "I want to meet your Annette friend you always talk about - she sounds so cool!". I think, in many ways, her daughter's wedding helped her hold on just a little longer, and she even danced like crazy that day, giving John Travolta a run for his money.

I wish I was able to say these words at Annette's Memorial Service today, but I don't always make the best public speaker and they probably wouldn't have done her justice. I've often wondered how I'd handle situations like these with regards to Blogging as well. I think I make a somewhat better writer and drawer than speaker, and in the end, Annette's story is one of great strength, courage and inspiration, and should be known to others who can benefit from her time spent on Earth. She certainly did not take her time here for granted. I'll miss my friend indeed, but I know that her memory and her spirit will live on and resonate through those who have had the good fortune to have known her.

Friday, August 14, 2009

wrapped in wonder

I made this little creature for the Illustration Friday subject "wrapped". It's a 3.5" x 2.5" framed mixed media ATC (artist trading card). It's also looking for a new home, so, I'll be picking a name from all who comment on this post. The name will be written on paper and drawn from a box. I'll announce the winner and contact them during the next Illustration Friday. It's that simple!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

august 2009 first friday gallery walk, leesburg, virginia

Last Friday night was the first time in a long time I went on the local First Friday gallery walk in Leesburg, Virginia. There was a lot of excellent work and music all over town and I had good reason to be there as well. Two galleries have some of mine and my wife Kris' work on display. Above are some photos from Gallery 222, located on King Street in Leesburg's Historic District. Last week they took submissions for their eighth annual "Something Hot" exhibit, which is a juried show. I entered my "Spotted Turtle Portrait" (who was also in the Square Art show at APW Gallery in NYC) at the urging of Kris. I was nervous the piece was going to get rejected, but stayed optimistic as well. Seeing the caliber of work there was very encouraging, and makes me want to get back to some more painting, just like with last Winter, when I was on a bit of a roll. The show goes on until late August and is well worth dropping in on.

The eleven photos above feature work at a new art space in Leesburg called "The Galleries of South King Street". I passed by the space last week and decided to turn back and check it out. I was impressed by the variety of art and how well the work was displayed throughout. I talked to a wonderful woman named Laura, who runs the space, and she suggested I bring in some stuff. So I immediately did, and now there are eight pieces, as well as some of my mini-books on display and for sale there. Kris came along with me as well and also got some of her beautiful sterling silver beaded works on display! Once again, the work is all on display throughout the rest of the month, so if you are in the area, go on in. It's such a friendly, warm and inspiring environment.

So, it was a special evening for Kris and I, and hopefully I'm not sounding like too much of a braggart here. More than anything, I hope this encourages anyone who had any doubts about trying something they wanted to, or had a fear of failure or being rejected. Whatever it may be, take a chance and say you tried.