Sunday, February 28, 2010

In Honor of the Big Read

Yesterday I attended the kick-off lecture for the March Big Read event. Kenosha will be reading John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. There was a surprisingly large turn out for the opening lecture given by Dr. Robert DeMott at the Kenosha Historical Society yesterday afternoon.

The Grapes of Wrath was required reading in high school, and I still have my now yellowed copy from way back then. I remember the story vividly...mostly because in the interim I've seen the movie a couple of times so the story comes easily to mind.

I am, however, looking forward to reading the story again in the dual contexts of the "grown up me" and today's economy.

Dr. Mott touched on a point that is frequently overlooked in the discussion of The Grapes of Wrath. Although the Great Depression is often focussed on as the main plight affecting the characters in the book, the greater tragedy was the ecological disaster of the Great Plains dust storms.

In the excerpt from his letter to Pascal Covici c. 1939, Steinbeck mentions five layers in the book. I wonder if the twin plights are two of those layers. Guess I'll have to dig in once again to find out.

The excerpt reads: "Throughout {The Grapes of Wrath} I've tried to make the reader participate in the actuality, what he takes from it will be scaled entirely on his own depth or hollowness. There are five layers in this book, a reader will find as many as he can and he won't find more than he has in himself."

On an entirely different topic, I did have a mini-Sketchcrawl over lunch. I'll post the results in the next few days...after I'm finished. How's that for a tease?

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Thursday, February 25, 2010


Like much of the population of our tiny globe, I've been closely following the Olympics. The athletes' stories have been inspiring, sad, moving, amazing, get the drift. Above all, they have been real. They are real people overcoming real hardships, enjoying the real support of real communities to compete in an arena with other real people for real wins. And sometimes, unfortunately, experiencing real losses despite all the very real training and sacrifice.

I don't now about you, but watching that much reality is exhausting! Don't get me's the very best kind of mental exhaustion because you get so very involved. You stand so firmly behind...and root so hard for....and care about, your favorites, and you have no idea how it's all going to turn out! So-called "reality TV" has nothin' on the Olympics. Not even the endless mind-twist of Lost can drag me far enough into its convolutions to give me the same rush I get from seeing a favorite athlete win gold.

This exciting rush has been added to a brew of nervous tension brought on by events in my own life. Well, last night I took a break from all of it. No worries...the trusty DVR was set to pick up the slack as far as the Olympics are concerned.

I popped in Jane Campion's Bright Star. I just needed to be told a story that didn't demand as much involvement on my part. Well, wouldn't you know, I got involved in a completely different way! I suppose a great movie will do that to you.

When I reached this scene in the movie, I put the player on pause:

Without going too far into the story line, Fanny is sitting on her bed on a warm summer afternoon feeling happy and content and perhaps a bit more. But she's just sitting quietly with her thoughts and enjoying this curtain-billowing breeze. Well, that did it...sucked me right in...I've felt that contentment and I've felt that particular breeze too (in the midst of the "bleak mid-winter" I'm anxiously anticipating its return).

That one scene in the movie reminded me of what it is to be "in the moment". I'm sure you're familiar with the moment. It's the instant in which you've successfully set aside your reliving of the past to determine the couldas and shouldas. And you've managed to wrench your gaze away from the gaping chasm of concern that is the future. Then, having put down those heavy burdens, you realize that in this moment everything is perfect. I really like those moments, and I'm happy to say I've enjoyed a few.

Like last night when I paused the player and sketched out this scene. And the moment that immediately followed it when I plucked the book off the shelf that contains an excerpt from John Keats' Endymion, and copied some of it into my moleskine. Those were some particularly nice moments, and I was in them.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sketchcrawl 26 This Saturday!

Wonderful DRC video about Sketchcrawl Brasil via Enrico Casarosa's Blog:

I won't be meeting up with a group, but you can guess I'll be sketching where I am!

Related Links:

Sketchcrawl Main Site

Sketcheria—mentioned in the video. This link will take you to the section related specifically to Sketchcrawl.

"Sketchcrawl" Flickr Group

"Sketchcrawl.brasília" Flickr Group—mentioned in video.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Philip Seymour Hoffman Sketch

According to the Arts & Entertainment section of the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Hoffman will be directing "The Long Red Road" at the Goodman Theater. The article here.

Gonna have to get tickets for that!

Drawing from a Chris Walker photo on front page of Chicago Tribune. I believe this link is correct, but couldn't find the specific photos from this article in the portfolio. The Trib is little light on photo credits...had to go searching for it in the article, and it was related to a different photo. So, if anyone out there knows better, please comment.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mr. O'Neal...Kinda

My apologies to Mr. O'Neal for making him look not quite himself. Still it was a relaxing bit o' ballpoint-pen-in-moleskine scribbling this afternoon.

The scribble is based on a Chris Walters photo appearing in an ad for The Flag Art Foundation's "Size Does Matter" show, curated guessed it...Shaquille O'Neal.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Busy & Enjoyable Weekend

This sketch of an Ethiopian Wolf is based on an Anup Shah photo that appeared in the article "Wolves of Ethiopia" in the March 2006 issue of National Geographic. At the time of the articles release, there were "roughly 600" of these wolves in the world, a quick Google search brought up a population count of about 440 in 2009—sorry didn't write down the source.

Staying on a theme (quite unintentionally, I assure you) I went to see The Wolfman in the afternoon. Did a quick and dirty moly sketch of a couple of fellow theater goers.

Saturday night, I enjoyed the Valentine's Day concert given by the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra with the extremely talented guest pianist Fumi Nishikiori.

Have also been enjoying the winter Olympics!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

MSP for February

This photo for the February Monthly Sketch Project was provided by Chrissy Marie

Two bugs in a row—I wonder if it's the beginning of a theme.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Hawk Moth

Drawn from a David Liittschwager photo appearing in the February 2010 National Geographic article entitled "Within One Cubic Foot".

Usually photos of wee creepy crawlies make my skin crawl, but the photos accompanying this article are really very beautiful.

Finally put pencil to paper this evening.

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Things That Are Beautiful 2

Rahsaan Bahati

Haven't put pen/pencil/paintbrush to paper lately, but here's a little something beautiful in the meantime.

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