Category Archives: Art

Turtle Tales

One of the local schools was celebrating the children’s book author Dr. Seuss. And so of course I volunteered to come to the school and read one of his many stories. I picked a rather short story “Yertle the Turtle” as it did not have too many tricky verbal passages, and it fit in with my ulterior motive.

So I drew a copy of one of the images in the book. And after I read the story, (a striking tale of hubris) I asked the kids to draw this picture of a turtle. Whenever I have visited any museum in London there are always some students drawing pictures, it seems to be a requirement. I thought that these kids might enjoy having a go at drawing after hearing the story. All of the classrooms were equipt with a fancy AV system that projected this drawing onto a large screen tv. I also drew a simple line drawing of a turtle on the whiteboard (classrooms do not have blackboards and chalk any more). And I asked the various classes that I visited to draw any sort of turtle that they liked for me.

It took real bravery to try and copy the storybook turtle and a few students in each class I visited attempted this. This kid did both sorts of turtles and a bonus cat.

This first grader drew quite a credible turtle (I did show a hat on the sample turtle).

Also by a first grader.

Yet another first grader’s art. He wanted to be sure to include the context of pond and rock while still choosing the simplified turtle picture.

This careful sketch of a realistic turtle was done by a third grader.

I am only showing the pictures that students gave to me. I think some students didn’t like their drawings, that’s why they gave them to me. Other students were so proud of their work that they wanted to share it. The first graders were the most enthusiastic (they thought the story itself was hilarious) and willing to try. The fifth graders were the most reluctant to try, which was sad. I had wanted to share my love of drawing, and I hope that I gave someone encouragement to give drawing a try.

Shadows again

I don’t know why I am obsessed with shadows, but I am. My dictionary (yes an actual physical book which sits next to my computer) first defines a shadow as: A comparative darkness within an illuminated area, especially that caused by the interruption of light by a body or object. Further down the listing it defines shadow as, A mirrored image: to see one’s shadow in a pool (this one does not seem to be as familiar a usage).

So there was another free day at the local museum, and as usual I popped in to see what’s new. And there was an abundance of shadows to be seen in the newest show.

This artist had used found bits of the detritus of life to make art. While the artwork itself was only mildly interesting, the works cast fabulous shadows.

Definitely an interruption of light going on here.

And here as well.

All of the pieces are made of similar stuff, bits and pieces of flotsam wired together, but each casting a lovely shadow of comparative darkness thanks to the illumination of the museum lighting.

Here was my favorite reflection of the day, it features multiple mirrorings of the original thanks to it’s plexiglass box. Repetition and enigma, these are things that add an extra bit of interest to the art, and were probably never intended or anticipated by the artist. But it’s what I see and appreciate when I look at these works.

Horsing around

The horse is a powerful symbol of the West. Easterners rode around in carriages, but Cowboys and (red) Indians preferred the freedom of a horse (also there was a certain lack of paved roads like existed in the East). And when something is such an ubiquitous important symbol, it often finds it’s way into art.

These horses are part of a grouping that celebrates a local developer. Someone added a whimsical touch by decorating each horse with a seasonal ribbon tie. It’s very festive and I hope that they do this for all of the major holidays.

This horse head looks to be old, and also looks as though it was formerly attached to something (a body perhaps?). Today it rests in the yard of M’s uncle, acquiring a new layer of weathering.

While this mysterious horse head awaits it’s place as a piece of art in someone’s home. It’s probably still for sale in this swanky antique store.

This riding horse was also in the antique shop, and I fell in love with it (although not with it’s price). Hey, wait a minute, I once had a tennis racquet like the ones under this horse, surely these can’t be an antique! I guess that tourists will buy anything (they hope).

Of all the horses, this is my favorite, and is the sort that I always wanted to have. Pegasus the flying horse is out there somewhere, just waiting to be tamed by a worthy human (or demi-god). Pegasus is not limited by a little thing like roads, and that is the ultimate in freedom.

Still More Shadows

I’m sure that management of the local art museum would be appalled that I often like the shadows cast by art better that some of the art they display. It’s just that the shadows are ephemeral (and sometimes more interesting). In truth most things in life are ephemeral, we just don’t realize it at the time.

I thought this piece was fabulous, as it has not just one, but two of my obsessions: shadows and reflections. I didn’t read the label, so I have no idea why this piece was displayed. So the theme of the room was art by Red Indians (also known as Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples, etc), so it was probably made by an Indian artist.

I considered saving this picture for the series that I have called “What a knob”, but I decided that I really like the shadow version better. And what is so special about this knob? Well, it came from the mansion of the city founder. I suppose that at some point they found a more interesting knob, so this one was consigned to the trash heap, until now.

I love this shadow cast by a Chihuly glass sculpture. It always makes me think of the worms that they put in the bottom of bottles of tequila. But this bit of shadow put me in mind of a pterodactyl (so you know where this post is going next).

Yes, here is a shadow cast by an actual pterodactyl. The painting is supposed to show the ghost of an early miner, hoping to make his fortune in gold or silver (doesn’t look like he was successful). And of course I think the painting is much improved with the addition of the shadow of a pterodactyl, courtesy of the fabulous museum lighting.

Art

On my recent trip, I ferreted out the location of an interesting destination.   I had seen an advert for the place on a friend’s website, so I decided that it was a must see.

And what might Novelty Automation be?   Well it’s got coin-operated machines inside, but they are not like regular commercially produced arcade machines.    They are all artist created, satirical machines (the only similarity to arcade machines is that it takes one’s coin).

Right inside the front door was this machine.   You put in the coin, crank the handle, and the spinner above the figures whirls around while the lamb on top shakes it’s head.  And then the decision.

The diorama spins up or down to show the final disposition of the lamb.  I got ‘pet’ which is how I would treat a lamb.   The other diorama has the lamb as the main course for dinner.  (Noooooo).

This artist has made a variety of machines, I hope that this one was not based on personal experience.

Of all the machines, this one was my favorite.   It is the art critic who will give a yea or nay as to whether something is art (note the plastic cow encased in lucite on the side, obviously it must be art).  I could not resist the challenge and so I put Pteri into the little box on the side of this machine.  Pteri rose up to be judged by this critic, how could he not be impressed?   Well it just goes to show the fickle nature of art criticism, Pteri was declared to be not art.  The judgement was obviously flawed, I assert that any picture (or art) can be improved with the addition of a pterodactyl.

 

Inktober

We here we are, just past the month of Inktober ( a month in which one does a drawing, in ink, every day of the month).  This year I decided that I would give this a go.   Why?  Well not because I am good at it, rather that I am bad at it, but hoping to become better.  And here are a few of the results.

This was one of the first drawings that I did.  The subject is Wyatt B.  I did a pencil sketch first, then used ink brush pens to make it truly inky.   I’m a novice at the pen, and I half like this, and half don’t.  I think I over-worked the picture, but it does look like Wyatt.

This sketch is of Freya B, done in an extra fine Sharpie, so I don’t think it came out too bad.   I usually draw dogs and I think this may be the first time I ever drew a cat.

This is a portrait of her brother, Thor B.  I did these first three drawings from photos that I took, as I am not fast enough to do animals from life.

As I usually draw pictures of dogs and since there wasn’t a dog handy, I made this from a photo I took in front of a fancy butcher shop.

I didn’t have any interesting photos to work from, so this is what I saw on the nightstand.

Once again I didn’t have a photo, so this is a drawing of part of the living room.  I worked hard on getting the proportions right, but I am obviously not very good at shading and filling in the backgrounds.   Perhaps that is something to aspire to when the next Inktober comes around.

Artists

When I was a young teen (which would put this at a very large number of years in the past)  I loved to walk the 2.3 miles to the local art museum and draw.  What I didn’t love was people coming up to me and asking what I was drawing.  (It would be the thing in front of me.)  So I was careful not to disturb these artists at work, but I did appreciate that they all were taking the time to get out and about and do the work of drawing what they saw.   Well done, random people.

This seemed to be an organized outing for this group of folks, as there was a large number of artists working on the same bit of statuary.

This solitary artist was making a large drawing of a small object (and doing a fine job of it too).

This young woman was in a different part of the hall of statues.   It’s a lovely thing that the museum provides these chairs (I used to just sit on the floor to sketch).

I don’t know why I think this, but I somehow got the impression that this young woman was doing this for a school project.  Perhaps it’s because the statue is so ugly.

This brilliant portrait of Sir Francis Drake was done by a five year old artist.   I wish that I had been this talented at that age.   I did tell her how much I admired this picture too.

Just off a very busy street, this fellow was doing more than a sketch.   He was painting the scene (there is a bit of license taken with the view, the sky was not very blue on that day) and I imagine that it must be hard to concentrate in this busy setting.

So I say bravo to all of these artists.  Out there in public and pursuing their muses.

Pterror at the Tate

One of the advantages of making a statue is that on the whole, a statue is much more durable than a painting.   Paintings need to be forever retouched (painted all over again in the style of the original artist) and fiddled with.   Paintings are rather fragile as well, with just a thin layer of paint over canvas, wood or even paper.   But a statue, well, they are mostly made of bronze and require no more than a light dusting from time to time.   Unless of course they are out of doors, then statues require maintenance from the depredations of pigeons (really, these birds have no respect for art!)  So as these statues are safely ensconced in the Tate, one might think that they would be safe.  But that thought would be wrong.

Whatever this 60’s thing is supposed to represent (possibly the artist has seen the horror movie “The Manster” or “The Thing With Two Heads), I’m sure the artist never envisioned that a pterodactyl might attack it.

And I’m afraid that in this stare down, Pteri wins.

Snakes aren’t much of a challenge for Pteri, especially when the snake is already being strangled.   Too bad for you, snake, now you have two problems.

And of course unconditional surrender is always accepted, and some are wise enough to take this course.

This girl seems to be rather nice, and it is a relief from all this terrorizing to spend a quiet moment  just resting.

Then it’s back to work.  This statue has no chance against a pterodactyl attack, or does he?   Safely protected in a plexiglass box, it’s obvious that someone, somewhere anticipated this eventuality.  So Pteri had had enough fun for one day, and it was on to the next challenge.

More windows

Once I start noticing a thing, like the white stickers on car windows, I start seeing them everywhere.  Of course the very best ones that I glimpse are the ones I see as I am driving along.  And it would be impossible to pull my phone out of my pocket (the seatbelt holds me securely in place) and snap a picture before the traffic light changes.  Oh well, sometimes these things are just meant to elude one’s grasp.   But I did manage to capture these images on parked cars.

In lieu of stick figures, Star Wars seems to be the next most popular way to graphically illustrate one’s family.  I have seen Darth Vader as paterfamilias, various storm troopers, and this one, with the large war machines,  At-At’s, for the parents and the smaller war machines, At-St’s to show the number of kids.  Must be some sort of fan, eh?

I loved this sticker from the moment I saw them pull into the parking space.   The combination of the cheerful yellow truck and the image of the elephant, it was really quite striking.   (Although they probably don’t have a pet elephant waiting at home).

I saw this one in the same parking lot as the elephant, and I somehow don’t think that it has an ulterior meaning, it was just a pretty thing.

And then there is this creepy sticker.   It’s on a rather nice SUV, but this girl wants everyone to know that she is a scary person at heart.

So we have seen these people’s obsessions, and you see my obsession, taking a peak into their souls.

Faces in Places

I had ended up downtown at the terminus of the annual cattle drive through town.  It always starts near the private college and ends at the former county courthouse, which is now a museum.

I had always noticed the large faces on the facade, there is a Native American (also known as Red Indians in the UK) over each of the large windows in the place.  These faces don’t look to be too pleased with the goings on in the building, but perhaps that is only fitting.

The animal kingdom is represented by this lion’s head.   He would be part of a fountain, if only the water had been turned on.

The intermediary between man and beast can be seen in the base of this light pole.   With cherub faces and lion feet, one wonders, ‘what on earth was the artist thinking’?

This woman is just part of the woodwork in this former district courtroom, but she appears to be happy about it.

Unlike the previous sculpted faces, this figure is painted and shows the entire body.   And what exactly the figure means is rather enigmatic.  She has wings (is she an angel?), she is holding a banner labeled gold (representing Fortune perhaps?), and has a dangling, trussed up person in front of her (no idea what so ever).   The more usual figure of blindfolded Justice holding a sword and a scale is nowhere to be seen in this courtroom.   Perhaps this is an allegory of how our local justice system works.