Alpha Tire

I was off work all last week, and can you believe it, I only had one artistic moment.  You know, we’ve got 26 kids – well 5, but still – so even when I’m off work there’s not much time for relaxation and creative genius (aherm).  I thoroughly enjoyed the week off.  I’m a big-time family dude, so any time I can spend surrounded by my beautiful wife and amazing children is a huge blessing to me.  My only regret is that some day this will all end.

Anyway, so as not to go off on a philosophical exposition, I’ll show you the one thing I managed to do.  I took the boys with me to get the oil and transmission fluids changed on my ride on Saturday.  Knowing it would be a little bit of a wait, I brought my new, favorite sketchbook: a 3×5 leather-bound  book, with paper that almost feels homemade, which I dig… alot.  I’ll snap a picture of it someday.  Anyway, here’s the finished product (pen and watercolor added after we got home, later that night after all 26 (or so) kids went to bed).

Watercolor & pen in 3x5 sketchbook

Watercolor & pen in 3×5 sketchbook

The Road

My Mom came up for a visit this past weekend.  She is also artistically oriented, so whenever we’re together we seem to manage to talk about art and end up doing something creative.  However, the goings on in our home, and the demands associated with those goings on – five children, two of those being 9 month old twins – dictate the amount of time available for such artistic endeavors.  And so it was about 10 o’clock on Saturday evening when we finally settled in our studio (the dining room table).

“What are you gonna do?”, Mom asked.

“I’m not sure”, I replied.

“Me either”, she said, and we both looked at our materials for a while.

Thumbing through the camera roll on my cell phone, I came across this photo I took on the way home one afternoon.  I liked the sky, which is why I took the photo in the first place.

I exclaimed, “Found it!  I’m gonna paint this.”

Mom thumbed through her phone and found her inspiration as well… her father, who passed away last April.  She misses him immensely.  Grandpa was always there for us.  He came over and fixed the plumbing, mowed the grass, and other, innumerable around-the-house kinds of things.  He helped us financially when Mom, struggling to provide for two boys alone on one income, couldn’t quite make ends meet.  He took care of us.

He was living in an assisted living facility in Jacksonville when he died, surrounded by his family.  Mom went to see him every day without fail.  It was her turn to take care of him.  She took care of him like I would want to be taken care of by my children when I’m old and can’t take care of myself.  She was a saint and an angel for him, and I admire and respect her greatly for that.  After my brother died, Grandpa was all the family she had left in Jacksonville (I am in Atlanta, and her sister is in Birmingham), so you can imagine how much it must have hurt to lose him, even though he lived a full life of 96 years.  She sure did love her Daddy.

I should have taken a photo of the portrait she drew.  She wasn’t happy with it.  I mentioned that I was rarely ever happy with anything I’ve ever done (artistically speaking, of course), and that she shouldn’t beat herself up about it.  Heck, if a perfect representation is what’s needed, then why not simply look at the photo?  Right?  Anyway, since I don’t have a photo of the drawing, I’ll substitute with a photo.  Here’s Grandpa:

Grandpa - Jacksonville, Fl 2011

Grandpa – Jacksonville, Fl 2011

I miss him, too.  The older I get, the more people around me pass away, and the more I’m reminded of my own mortality.  It’s a gentle reminder, you know.  Live… live well.  And LOVE!  I am blessed to be surrounded by family, and believe me, these lessons aren’t lost on me in the least.

Oh, so here’s what I painted:

Road Scene:  Watercolor on 4"x6" paper

Road Scene: Watercolor on 4″x6″ paper

Funny, now that I look back on it.  The road could represent life.  This could be a snapshot of where I currently am on this particular road I’m traveling.  I can just see what’s ahead until it curves off.  What lies beyond, I cannot know.  I can only know that I am on a road, and moving forward.  Huh.  How ’bout that?

Mr. Mayor

I got an email from the folks at sketchbookproject.com about a new project for the week: Challenge Accepted! – This week we ask you to share a little piece of home and draw a portrait of your town’s mayor.”

I didn’t even know who our Mayor was.  Isn’t that sad?  Well, I didn’t want to do a drawing of some boring looking politician, so I scoured his (turns out his name is Billy Copeland) Facebook page and found a photo of him in these wonderful shades.  The likeness isn’t all that great, but it was fun.  Thanks, and it was nice getting to “know” you, Mr. Mayor!

Billy Copeland, Mayor of McDonough, Georgia. Watercolor on 4"x6", 140 lb cold-pressed watercolor paper.

Billy Copeland, Mayor of McDonough, Georgia. Watercolor on 4″x6″, 140 lb cold-pressed watercolor paper.

Blessings Thrift Store

Thank God for sketchbooks, or I might not create at all.  I did this in the parking lot of a thrift store my wife and mother-in-law were browsing, while sitting in the van with the kids.  I didn’t have a lot of time – turns out there wasn’t much worth looking at in the store.

Anyway, I’ve been bouncing around an idea of adding a shopping cart to the page to allow folks to purchase some of my drawings/paintings, but just haven’t committed to it.  One, I have no idea how to set up an e-commerce function.  And two, I’m a bit frightened at the potential rejection (although, that isn’t really that much of a concern… I wouldn’t post if I cared deeply what others thought… OK, nevermind, but I’m leaving “two” there JIC).  If anyone who reads this has had luck with that, I’d love to chew the fat with you.

Blessings Thrift Shop. Watercolor & ink in Moleskine sketchbook.

Blessings Thrift Shop. Watercolor & ink in Moleskine sketchbook.

Funny Face

I wanted an interesting face to draw/paint, so I Googled “funny face”, and I was drawn to a certain black and white photo of a man contorting his face just so.  I thought, “That’ll do”, broke out a piece of ACEO and a brush pen, and went at it.  Of course black and white won’t do, so I added a touch of color.  Here he is:

Brush pen and watercolor on ACEO

Brush pen and watercolor on ACEO

Dad

I haven’t seen or talked with my dad since sometime in the mid 90′s.  We had a falling out.  He passed away in 2003 at the age of 59, alone – well alone in the sense that he had no family around.  He was in his childhood hometown, Placerville, California, and his brother lived in Pollock Pines, and his father in Sacramento.  I assume he had friends at the assisted living home he was in at the time, but he greatly valued family, and none were present when he died.  I still feel great remorse at the fact that I couldn’t be a better man for not talking to him for years.  It goes back a few years, though – our history.

He left mom for another woman in 1976.  I was 7 years old, my brother was 4, pushing 5.  Our world collapsed on us, and we ended up moving from San Jose, CA clear across the continent to Jacksonville, FL, where mom was from.  We flew out to San Jose the next Summer (’77) and visited for a couple months.  The next time I would see him would be after I graduated boot camp 10 years later.  My brother had to wait until my first marriage in 1991 before he saw dad again.

Reconnecting was awkward after so many years.  We barely remembered him.  I can’t imagine how that must’ve been for him, our father.  He had an anyeurism burst in his brain, and nearly died shortly after he left mom.  He changed after that.  He was cantancerous and bull-headed.  One day, I took it the wrong way, and that was the last time I spoke to him.  I’m sorry, dad.  Turns out I was bull-headed, too.

He and his second wife adopted a little boy, who I am now fairly close with, although he lives in CA and I in GA now.  We both made it to his funeral in ’03, where he met my younger brother for the first time.  They both got along amazingly… so much alike, they were.

My blood brother ended up killing himself in 2006, almost a year after being my best man in my wedding to the absolute best woman I ever knew.  I miss him terribly.  He was my best friend.

Grandpa outlived them both, passing away in 2012 at the age of 93.  I got to see my adopted brother again then, and we enjoyed our time together in Sacramento for the funeral.

A couple weeks ago, he texted me a photo of our dad.  It looks to be about the late ’80s; about the time he and I first re-connected.  Today during lunch I used that photo to practice with my brushpens, and it turned into this.  Not too serious an attempt, but better than sketching (as that’s how it all started).

Brushpens, watercolor, and charcoal on pressboard backing.

Brushpens, watercolor, and charcoal on pressboard backing.

Kakegawa

I went to Japan in 2005 for 8 days.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.  We got to see Kakegawa castle while we were there, although it was closed for repairs.  The outside was magnificent.  I’m a big fan of Urban Sketchers and thought maybe I’d give it a go – you know doing it like they do.  My first, sort of, urban sketch (although it was from a photo, which is taboo for those guys).  One day I’ll do a live one, then feel like I’ve accomplished something.  Meanwhile, check out the Urban Sketchers website.  It’s fantastic!

Watercolor & fine sharpie pen in the Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

Watercolor & fine sharpie pen in the Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.