Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Aesthetics Of Evil.

I have been asked many times during my career as a courtroom artist whether I ever allow my personal feelings to influence how I depict the defendant. The answer is "No."


The only time I entertained doing so was in the murder trial of Thomas Capano, the most evil person I've ever drawn in court. He'd at one time been the City Solicitor for Wilmington, Delaware, and was on trial for murdering one of his many lovers, Anne Marie Fahey.


Capano was smart, politically connected, controlling, narcissistic, and he preyed on women with low self-esteem. To me he was also an arrogant fool. I could not resist doing this series of cartoons, depicting some of the outrageous moments during the trial. This is the first time they have been published.


Capano had blamed the murder on another of his long time lovers, Deborah McIntyre. During her testimony McIntyre told of one night when she and Capano were together at her home when her husband, a friend of Capano's, arrived unexpectedly. She convinced her husband good old Tom was there to repair their VCR.
It's quite possible I exaggerated at bit here...but not too much, considering her testimony and that of others about their sexual escapades.


Eventually Capano took the stand to offer his version of events the night of the murder. I think his tail gave him away.


Here is my take on Capano being questioned by the brilliant U.S. Attorney, Colm Connolly. He and Capano had gone to the same Jesuit school. Capano hated Connolly. To me they were like two sides of the same coin; one evil, the other good.


Capano said he'd bought the gun that killed Fahey to protect his daughters, but eventually gave it to his then lover, Debbie McIntyre. At one point he rambled on about how his interpretation of Jesuit philosophy could justify killing someone. He had chained an anchor to the ankle of his victim, Anne Marie, before casting her body overboard from his brother's boat in a part of the ocean known as "Shark Alley," sixty miles off the New Jersey coast.


A few times Capano's anger while on the witness stand got him kicked out of court. Having been a lawyer in that very courtroom for many years, he no doubt knew most of the Sheriff Deputies.


Murder and Sex were the common threads running through this trial. This woman was a prison psychiatrist testifying for the defense. Although she had lots of credentials as an "Expert Witness," she proved to be inept and an embarrassment to the defense team. After meeting with Capano 15 or 20 times, her demeanor in court implied a bit more than a "professional" interest in the defendant, and the judge basically said her testimony was worthless.


At the end of the lengthy trial the jurors overwhelmingly found Capano GUILTY AS CHARGED!
His death sentence was eventually overturned and he was sentenced to life. He died on September 19th, 2011. One of Anne Marie Fahey's brothers said he surely went straight to Hell.
AMEN.
 
        

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sketching In My Favorite Places.

There is a variety of places I visit on a regular basis that never cease to inspire me to open my sketchbook and start to make marks on the blank page.


One of them is "Jim's Lunch," in Millville, New Jersey. The same family has been making delicious "Diner food" there for 3 or 4 generations. This is the second sketch done of one of the current owners, Jim Maul, as he was making my "one-egg-over-easy" with Italian sausage and rye toast, and coffee. I show up there every Thursday morning before teaching at the nearby "Barn Studio of Art." Jim always kids me about not quite capturing the full length of his nose.


Just a few blocks from my home is a McDonalds. Once a month I give in to the urge...the need, to down a calorie-laden short stack of pancakes, of which I only allow myself two. And again, with a sausage patty.
YUM! And oh-so-bad-for-me.


If I want something a bit more "upscale" in the food department I walk the few blocks to my favorite Jewish deli, "Hymie's." I have one particular seat that gives me a good view of the patrons. I'm often asked if I did the many portraits on the walls? I did not. They were done by another artist/friend of mine.
He recently put me up on the wall. By the way, this is not a portrait of me, sketching.


Speaking of portraits. Once in awhile I'll end my day at "The Tavern," a gathering place for those wishing to partake of the "Happy Hours" specials, and hors d'euvres. I have a favorite place to sit at the bar, one that gives me a mirror image in the beer tap of those sitting behind me...and in this case, me.


On very rare occasions, when I'm still not quite ready to head home for bed, I'll stop in at an all night Diner.
The nearest is the "Llanarch Diner." It has been there for a long time, and it's most recent claim to fame is the
 booth used in the film "Silver Linings Playbook," where Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence had their first date. This couple was not sitting in that booth, but there definitely was something going on here between the two of them. About as close as they, and I, will ever get to Hollywood fame, I suspect.
OK; time for bed.    

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Weekend Of Opera, Art, And Tons Of Snow In Boston.

Two weekends ago my friend Nancy and I, and her dog Leah, drove up to Boston to hear Nancy's daughter Rachel (right) sing in the opera "Ithigenia in Tavris."  Rachel and her friend Coco are two of the many amazingly talented students at the Boston Conservatory of Music. (Thank you Coco for use of the photo.)

Once settled into our room high above the Brownstones behind the hotel, Leah checked out the view.
She said there was snow as far as the eye could see.


Indeed there was; piles on sidewalks and intersections five to seven feet tall.
And as we know in the week since, even more snow has been dumped on "Bean Town."


Saturday morning I decided I had to somehow chronicle the snowfall in a drawing, without freezing my butt off. Across from our hotel was the Prudential Center, in which I found the lobby of a condo. It looked out onto a snow covered garden. I settled into a warm and comfy overstuffed chair, and did this sketch in about an hour.


After lunch Nancy and I decided to brave the snow and walk to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Mrs.Gardner was a patron of the arts, and close friend of one of my favorite artists, John Singer Sargent.
The elegant home was built in the late 1900s, in the style of a 15th century Venetian palace. The three story building's interior surrounds this beautiful garden, the top of which originally opened to the sky. I couldn't help wondering how they would have dealt with snowstorms back then? Brrrrrr.


This is the last painting done by Sargent of  the ailing Mrs.Gardner, when she was 82 years old. She had suffered a stroke three years earlier. Sargent's water color captures her pale fragility, propped up by pillows, wrapped in shades of white cloth, surrealistically echoing the drifts of snow surrounding her former home.





    

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Rules Of Making Art; And How To Violate Them.


Once in awhile I forget the sub-title to my blog is "My adventures as an artist...etc...etc...etc."
On a recent weekend night I went to hear my former harmonica teacher, Seth Holtzman, playing a "Blues" gig.in nearby Media, PA. with  his friend, "Johnny Never." They did their Art, and I did mine.
But as often happens, I soon realized I had mis-spellings in comments heard, and with one of Seth's hands.,
I'd totally ignored one of his fingers wrapped around the harmonica.
OUCH! Where is the White-Out when I need it? Pablo Picasso supposedly said ;"An amateur artist learns the rules. A professional artist learns how to break them."  This drawing will get cleaned up.


And yes, I have absolutely no problem reaching for the White Out, or whatever else will cover errors...bad drawing, mis-spelled words, to bring my drawing or painting to a satisfying state. Notice I did not say "finish," or "conclusion."

Supposedly Pierre Bonnard (my absolute Hero) would quietly sneak his paints and brushes into museums that had bought his paintings, and discreetly touch them up, unable to bring himself to say "Enough already!" (Not sure how to say that in French?)


I've often been asked, "How do you know when a painting is finished" There are a couple of fairly good answers. "How do you know when a conversation is over?" If the person asking the question is also flirting with you, the response might be, "How do you know when you're done making love?"  It comes down to a gut feeling, usually, that there is simply nothing left to do, as with this drawing. Lots of texture, cross-hatching,
values from white to almost black. Anything more would be redundant.



And the fun thing for me as I draw and the sketch evolves is reaching those moments when I must make a choice. Do I stay with a drawing that is open, airy, and just done in simple "line?" This drawing was done at Barnes and Noble. I liked how these two were separated by a column, each contained within their mental and physical space, seemingly unaware of the other. And I really loved the big pile of hair on the woman.
(It was bright orange.) Her "statement" about who she was begged to be confirmed on paper via my pen.


Taking this relatively simple drawing to the next level, with cross-hatching that implies a variety of "values"
(degrees of lights and darks) begins to describe the environment. There is implied depth and perspective to the column..These folks now share the space. Clothing has texture, shadows of lap-tops and coffee cups let us know where the light is coming from, and as a drawing made up of "Marks" on the flat surface of the page, the total image becomes more graphic  It's now more about the "shapes" of things, and less about the initial open line. I can keep adding cross-hatching to make areas look darker, and by comparison, other areas look lighter. As my boss at KYW-TV-3 used to say, "It's all a bunch of cheap optical tricks!"
And a judicial use of good old White-Out, when needed.                  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Doctor King And My Art Reflecting His Legacy.

Today we celebrate the birthday of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.


           This and the following partial images were done by me for a documentary about the "Civil Rights                                               Movement", when I worked at KYW-TV 3, in the 1970s.








Much has changed for the better, much for the worse, and much stays the same, only in a different guise.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Art Of Making Mike Douglas Thinner.

One of my New Years resolutions for 2015 was to bring order to the mess I call my studio.




 In the process I came upon illustrations done while at KYW-TV 3, and the Mike Douglas Show.
This illustration is not by me, but of me, posing for a fellow illustrator, Charles Santore. Charlie has forever been THE PREMIER illustrator in Philly, in my opinion. I had just gotten my job in the art department, and he needed a model for an ad for TV Guide magazine. Although I worked "behind the scenes," I was never a cameraman.


I was one of seven very talented Set and Graphic Designers during my ten years at channel 3. I was the only Illustrator, but each of us got to do ads, graphics, and set design for the Douglas Show, Eyewitness News, and other productions. It was a great time to work in television in Philly, 'cause Westinghouse Broadcasting was making tons of bucks off the Mike Douglas Show, Merv Griffin,  David Frost, and other local shows.
This is a piece done to promote the Douglas show on billboards, sides of buses, etc.


I enjoyed my role as Illustrator, but one of my unique challenges was doing portraits of Mike Douglas.
I didn't usually have a problem getting a "likeness," but I cannot tell you how many times a portrait of Mike would be sent back me in the art department, with a request to "make Mike a little thinner." I did what I thought I could get away with without losing the likeness, sent the image back for approval, and was never
surprised when it came back a few more times before the folks in the Douglas offices (Mike?)
were finally happy. Over the years I've gotten the same kinds of requests from lawyers and prosecutors when covering a trail. I usually tell them "I just draw what I see."


Here is a piece done for the Merv Griffin Show, which came out of "the little theater off Times Square," in
New York. I was never asked to make Merv thinner.      


During its' prime, the Douglas Show had a bigger audience than the Tonight Show. The women of America seemed to love Mike and his Irish charm. Someone once said he reminded them of the husband they wish they had, or the son they never had.


The Douglas Show had a unique format for its' time. Every week there would be a "guest host," and I would
do portraits of them that appeared on the set, in advertising, where ever. Here is one done of Billie Jean King. Whenever I could I'd get guests to sign their portrait for my collection.


Here is Richard Pryor. Most of these were done in ink line and, for color, Magic Markers.


One morning I found myself on the cramped little studio elevator with Muhammad Ali and his wife.
Back in the 70s everything was "Super Graphics" and "Psychedelic Color."


As the "Resident Illustrator," I did many portraits of famous lawyers and infamous criminals when covering trials for the News department. I have every painting done from those trials (over two thousand) and I'm finally at work on the manuscript for my "Coffee Table" book about my many years as a "Courtroom Artist."


There were a few "guest hosts" I didn't get to draw, because for a month or so our union decided to go on STRIKE. During one of those weeks Burt Reynolds was on the Douglas Show. One of the cameramen foolishly challenged Burt as he was entering the building, so Mr. Macho Burt DECKED HIM! I could not resist doing this cartoon of the event, with a bit of exaggeration, of course.


There were other events at KYW-TV 3 that were much less violent, but certainly just as raucous and oh so much fun. Like the Christmas Party. My friend Barbara was head of the Promotion Department and a former "Rockette."  I cannot recall who the guy was on the right, but quite obviously, not yet ready for "Prime Time."


  






Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Drawings From My Sketchbook At The End of 2014.

Happy New Year, Friends. Here are some sketchbook images reflecting my adventures from around Thanksgiving.until now.


Sometimes at the end of my morning walk I miraculously end up at the nearby Dunkin' Donuts.
These two couples have been meeting here every morning for years. I've always wanted to draw them,
and just last week finally did. One day I got brave and asked what language they were speaking?
They are Greeks, and obviously longtime friends.


Two weeks ago I took the train into Philly to meet three of my friends and fellow artists at the Barnes Museum. These passengers were waiting for other trains.


After we parted I walked over to the Barnes and Noble, around 18th and Walnut streets.
These two folks did not know each other, or that I was drawing them. Each of us was in our own world.


Before heading back out of town I stopped in one of my old haunts, from when I was in Art School, in the sixties. Nothing seemed to have changed, except the bartender and me.


I could not resist sketching this dozing fellow passenger on the train ride home. The partial sketch on the right
is of a guard at the Barnes, who was also dozing off and on. He said I could not sketch in the galleries.
Mmmm...I wonder how Monet would have replied?


A few days later, while out running errands, I gave in to a mad urge for some pumpkin pie, topped with vanilla ice cream and a few puffy squirts of whipped cream. When my students complain they don't know what to draw in their sketchbooks, I tell them "Draw anything!"


Always a fun thing to do when at my favorite Chinese restaurant is just fill the page with "talking heads,"
at the take-out counter.


Sometimes when my son Mason is playing with his band, the "Tree Rats,"on "Open Mic Tuesdays", I'll hang out to draw them as they perform. Mas' is the small head left of middle, always behind his band mates because he is the drummer.
Tomorrow night is New Years eve, and to each of you have a safe and enjoyable evening, wherever you celebrate.                                
                     CHEEEEERS!