Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coffee, Bagels, And Fine Art.

Growing up in the '50s in South Jersey I spent most  Friday nights, after bowling, hanging out at diners.

I still love diners, diner food, diner coffee, and diner lemon meringue pie. This is an illustration I did for what eventually became a "bas-relief" sculpted diner interior, to hang on a wall.

Here's a color sketch (not the "finish) for another client, who owns a puzzle company. In this case she wanted me to design a "Shaped" image. The "inside-outside" view is a bit "Surreal", but along the way I got an idea for yet another diner related project.

I love diner coffee mugs, and the same is true of bagels. So I thought; why not re-create some of my favorite artist's images, but also incorporate my coffee mug and bagel into the composition? No photo-shop here,
just my left hand with a brush and paints. This is a famous painting by Van Gogh, of the chair in his room.

Pablo Picasso loved women, and here is one having a bit of brunch. Looks like she spent the morning bent over backwards, pleasing Pablo.

Trying to replicate the strokes in a watercolor is difficult enough, but one done by Cezanne is truly a challenge.

I suspect more people know the paintings of Dali than Magritte, his fellow Surrealist. But I think Magritte had a bit more of a sense of humor. Magritte would enjoy pointing out to you that is not a bagel on the plate.
It is a painting of a bagel on a plate. This mind-twister was so much fun to do.
Next one on my list will be a painting by Freda Kahlo.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Obsessive Need To Fill Blank Pages With Drawings.

"Horror Vacui," from the Greek, refers to "fear of the empty." For a variety of reasons, hoarders have it,
and historically artists in all cultures have displayed a need to "fill up that space with Art!"

"Wow, look at all that detail!" is a comment I often get from people viewing my sketches. What they are actually responding to is the variety of marks; from simple lines, to overlapping layers of cross-hatching
suggesting mid to dark tones, as in the sketch above.

Unless I want an exacting portrait, I never rough things in with pencil. I start with my pen, usually on a person's eye, then let my pen take me for a walk across the page. My pen and I are not motivated by fear, but by FUN. At some point the drawing is pretty much all in simple "line." I was actually in line at the Post
Office without my sketchbook when I got the urge to draw the folks ahead of me.

At some point I must decide whether to make the leap into texture. I use cross-hatching a lot when in a dimly lit bar or restaurant, in my attempt to imply the ambiance and intimacy of a place.

Sometimes, to make a dark area just a bit darker, I'l wet my finger and do a smudge; a "spit-wash."
Here it is the in hair and top of this young artist. Then I've gone beyond just line, and it is an actual half-tone.

I often get seduced by what I hear people saying, or lyrics in songs, all adding another level of texture to the visual mix. This is my friend Joe de Pasquale, retired principle violist with the Philadelphia and Boston Symphony Orchestras. Now in his nineties, Joe still teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music.

This drawing was done while on vacation at our cabin on Deer Isle, Maine, in August. My son Pierce and his partner Maggi and band-mate Justin and my granddaughter Diver were performing that night at the "Black Fly Festival," in Machias. To make use of my time on the 3 hour ride the "Silver-Pop-Pop-Baby-Sitting-Roadie" did this view out the window. Lotsa' line and texture; not much actual crosshatching.
As my old mentor at Channel three used to say, "We are Masters of the cheap optical trick."
Next time; more tricks.          

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Gentle Art Of Scaring Children Young And Old.

               Halloween has come and gone, but the fright lingers on. At least at the Ternay house.
           Everyone has something that scares them silly, seems to me. For my favorite middle son, Pierce,
           that means Spiders and Clowns. I did this as a birthday card for him about ten years ago, when
                                                      he lived with his band-mates in an old mill.

                                                                        He loved it. (hee-hee)
                                                                        For me it's SNAKES.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Creating In The Middle Of Things."

The title of this post is from a book that I keep at my bedside. "Coaching the Artist Within," is one of many books written by Eric Maisel, a "Creativity Coach."for Artists of all kind.

Maisel's thoughtful and encouraging proddings help keep me on the straight and narrow path of dealing with all the "stuff" life throws at us daily, yet still maintain some form of creativity. The easiest way to keep in practice is to reach for my always handy sketchbook.

As you know by now, my sketches are done in a variety of locales, some on the fly in line at the post office or market, or a more lengthy wait at the doctor's office, or when I'm settled in at a restaurant or bar, or Barnes &  Noble, or at an airport. The woman above and I had drops in our eyes at the Ophthalmologist..

 Our local School Board was trying to quietly push through a project that would create a depot for High School buses in an already crowded residential area a few blocks from my home. Neighbors were up in arms about the proposal, needless to say. I felt an obligation to document the Board's confrontation with my fellow irate citizens.  

I never know where my pen is going to take me.

But wherever we travel I know I'll encounter a cast of unsuspecting fellow characters, and a wonderful pile of shapes on the page.

I'll soon be creating a little book with drawings done over the past forty-five years at "Hymie's Deli."

And as long as they are performing within 25 or so miles from me, I'll show up to hear
"Dr. Ben's Backbone Blues Band."

I cannot resist putting in comments uttered by bartenders and fellow patrons. The total often makes for a funky composition that just evolves.

This man was more than a bit befuddled by who was paying for what...and yes, I know; TMI!   
Life and all the accumulation of stuff continues, and my sketchbooks get full.

Monday, July 14, 2014

"The Watson House," A Nostalgiac Photo Essay.

Last week I posted this portrait of my wife Louise on Facebook.
Her birthday was on the 10th of July. She would have been seventy years old.

That image is one of many in a little photo essay I did about a wonderful old Inn, "The Watson," at "Twin Lakes," in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. Our vacations there were nostalgic reminders for Louise of vacations spent there with her family, and eventually as a waitress.

The waitresses quarters were in the cramped, hot attic.

Part of the tradition of working as a waitress at the "Watson" was adding your signature to the many scrawled on the rafters over many years.

Here are the Innkeepers, Mr. and Mrs. Watson, with one of their sons.

Generations of families sat in rocking chairs, enjoying the view of the lake from the shaded porch,
while waiting for the call to good old "Family-Style" dinners. Louise is in her favorite spot, and our first son,
Will, is waiting for his dad to play horseshoes.

The chef taking a much needed break before shoving dozens of buns into the ovens for dinner.

I think the following images speak for themselves.

 One year we took my mother Helen with us. It was her kind of vacation spot, for sure.

 Each bedroom at the Watson House had at least one of these decorative Victorian wrought iron beds, covered with many coats of paint. After the Watsons finally closed the Inn in the early 1980s, Louise and I drove up to Twin Lakes one final time, to purchase one of the beds, which I still have.

The vacations spent at "The Watson" as a young family were at the very beginning of what would be our rich
forty-three year marriage. As with most relationships we had our share of bumpy roads. Sometimes we were not even on the same road, but in hind-sight we realized we were destined to be there, for each other, when needed. I think this picture sums it up.

Near the end of her life Louise would often
ask me, "What are you going to do,
Bill; what are you going to do?"
Good question.
Whatever it is, I seem to be doing it.


Thanks to my dear friend Peter Sasgen
for making such beautiful prints over 45 years ago.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Painting At The 300th Birthday Party Of The Barns-Brinton House In Chadds Ford.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a Saturday painting with two of my fellow "Plein Air"
friends, Bruno Baran and Jacalyn Beam, on the grounds of the Barns-Brinton House in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

There was a gentle rain when I arrived, and I found Jacalyn in the shelter of a tree, already half-way through one of her exquisite small oils.

Here is a sketch of Bruno as he worked on one of his paintings, also in oil.

By ten a.m. Reenacters were in place and mingling with the public as everyone celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Barns-Brinton House, a wonderfully preserved former colonial tavern built in 1714.

Because I enjoy talking to people about the process of doing a painting, especially when working in watercolor, I ended up finishing only one painting on this day.  

Here is my painting, which I believe captures the historical ambiance of the day. Happily the Director of the Chadds Ford Historical Society felt the same way, because she bought it.

In spite of the hot weather, and for some, heavy clothing, the Reenacters stayed in character throughout the day, dancing and sharing their knowledge of what life was like for Colonial Americans 300 years ago.

At times I felt like I was on the back-lot of a Hollywood historical film set, with all these folks "in-character."

Mmmmm...perhaps next year I will join them.

I hope you had a wonderful July Fourth weekend!