Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sketching in New York

The Three Graces at the Met

The Three Graces at the Met

I was in New York last week.  At the end of my trip, I had a few hours before I had to catch my plane so I went up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This is a favorite haunt of mine.  Big surprise.  This time, I decided to spend some time in some different areas.  First I went to the Greek and Roman sculpture area.  Very inspiring.  I whipped out my small sketchbook that I always keep with me and practiced on these beautiful statues.

I believe that every artist should practice sketching as much as possible, daily at least.  This is the artist’s equivalent to a musician practicing scales or an athlete throwing pitches.  You should do it enough that capturing what you see before you becomes second nature.

I usually travel with at least a small sketchbook, a commercial permanent ink pen, and maybe a set of colored brush pens.  I like Faber Castell shades of grey or their landscape package.

The subject doesn’t really matter although my sketches are usually just memory joggers.  My hotel room, at dinner or the theatre, in the museum, on the street.  Sometimes people will approach you to see what you are doing, however, most people won’t even notice.  I’ve leaned up against buildings at night and have drawn street vendors on Times Square, stretch limos, the night buildings in fog.  The drawing makes me “see.”  There are many better draftsmen than me…but it works for me.  Try it yourself.  Also, check out Urban Sketchers for some real inspiration.

Aphrodite at the Met

Aphrodite at the Met

Boy Wearing Wreath

Boy Wearing Wreath

Stephanos Youth

Stephanos Youth

 

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My friend Bill

Bill Whorrall - Artist Parking Only

Bill Whorrall – Artist Parking Only

Recently, I went up to visit my friend Bill Whorrall.  Up – to me – means north.  He lives a few counties over up in Martin County, a place nearly as rural as mine.  Hills, rivers, woods, rock outcroppings and a good variety of interesting people.I’ve been acquainted with Bill for several years but have only gotten to really know him the past few years.  He and his lovely wife (or as he describes her “the long-suffering Karen) live on a nice little homestead farm snuggled back into the hills overlooking their large garden and orchards, where they have their studios (she works in clay).  So I had a little extra time over the holidays and wanted to kick around a few ideas with Bill.  It was one of the most interesting days I’ve had in a long long time.

Bill is well-known in the region but those who don’t know him well often think of him as an opinionated, outspoken crank and contrarian.  He is.  He is also one of the most innately creative people I know and is passionate about his work and many other things. He has a wonderful attraction for the ironic. Bill is a photographer, artist, sculptor, writer, poet, and one of the best art teachers in the country.  That last is not an exaggeration.  He was recently nominated for a nationally-known art teachers’ award although he would never tell you about it.  He is very humble about his accomplishments.  His students, both children and adults adore him.  He is able to get his students to tap areas of creativity they didn’t even know they had.

After several hours talking about art and the state of the world, and a substantial lunch prepared by the lovely Karen, Bill voiced his frustration about updating his website.  His web designer had disappeared.  This is one of the few areas that Bill isn’t experienced in so I offered to come back and help him.  I suggested that with his many creative talents that a blog would be a perfect venue for him.  Currently, in addition to all his other work, he makes and prints his Billzines.  These are wonderful handmade, hand-printed magazines that are only mailed to a few select recipients.  I am happy to say that I am on that very short list now.

So I returned to Bill’s house the following week and help him set up a blog.  It is called, of course, http://www.billzine.com  He is now posting his own thoughts and rants, books, photography, ideas for art teachers, poetry and writing.  Please take a few moments to visit his blog and website.  www.billwhorrall.com  I think you will be amazed at what he has accomplished in less than THREE WEEKS!  Sheesh!

Another thing I should mention.  Bill just turned 70 and will retire from teaching this year.  Fortunately, he has agreed to teach for us at the arts center.  Boy, are we lucky.  Oh, yeah.  One more thing.  Bill is now legally blind.  Please don’t feel sorry for him as he doesn’t feel sorry for himself.  He can see somewhat and works at his computer with a big magnifying glass.  He still paints and writes and photographs.  As he said himself, even if he goes completely blind, he will still find some way to create.  And he will.

Bill Whorrall in his studio

Bill Whorrall in his studio

Bookstores and resolutions

Books, my not-so-secret addiction

Books, my not-so-secret addiction

Recently my son was looking at a photo of me in my office at work and observed, “You know, Mom, it seems as if wherever you go, you always have piles of books around you.”

Guilty as charged.

I have made no secret of my special addiction to books in previous posts.  I truly am.  I get a rush when I walk into a bookstore or library.  And hitting the BUY button Amazon must generate a feeling akin to a gambler who has just pulled the lever. I love the smell of books.  The heft.  Looking at pictures, turning pages, feeling the texture.  Seeing piles and shelves full of my favorites makes me giddy with pleasure.  The (yet) unread stories or the old friends and memories of where I acquired the book, where I read it, my thoughts about it.

The only real drawback with books is the sheer space they take up and how much they weigh.  If you’ve ever had to move, you already have learned to pack books into small boxes.

Soooooo….I made a resolution not to buy any books this year.  (I truly am overwhelmed.)  That still leaves the library and my VINE selections.  But…before the new year began, I visited my favorite real bookstore in Louisville.  Anticipating spending at least an hour cruising the aisles, I was shocked when I walked in to see how much their book stock had dwindled.  Their shelves were now filled with toys, games and puzzles.  Gift items and cheap overstock books.  But where were the REAL books?  The poetry, the philosophy, art and musings?  And I realized just then – in a most drastic way – that I was partly responsible for this book shrinkage.  The demise of the brick and mortar bookstore.

I shop online for the lowest price, even for used books.  I’ll frequently receive a “used” book which appears brand new and it only cost me a penny!  (And, yes, I shop Goodwill online, too.)

But what is the future of bookstores if we all shop online or download to our e-readers?  Where will our children and grandchildren experience the pure pleasure of fondling the tomes of authors across time and space?  That they can actually possess for a mere few dollars?

I used to anticipate for an entire year my annual visit to Ann Arbor, home of the flagship store for Borders as well as many funky used book stores.  I’d often wander in with determination and a list.  It was a reader’s pleasure garden, a true emporium of knowledge.  Well, Borders put up a good fight but we all know the end of that story.

So, my resolution has been amended to buy from and support real bookstores whenever I can.  There are no more real bookstores in my little town but all the Google maps of the cities I visit are sure to be starred with my favorite haunts.  I look forward to keeping this new resolution.

As for the other, well, it’s only the 16th of the month and I’ve already broken it several times.  Oh, well.  Keeping authors employed, right?