A simple portrait of a young woman whose beauty reminds me of a 19th century woman, her hair separated in the middle and tied in a bun adorned with fragrant flowers, hands folded in her lap, her radiant, yet mocking smile suggesting words and opinions not said. A perhaps simpler way to describe her would be to say she looks like English actress Kristin Scott-Thomas.
Yesterday, I went to the First Friday event in Milwaukie. After wandering in and out of businesses, looking at displays for a while, since it was getting dark and cold, I decided to call it a night (haha!).
As I was getting ready to get back in my car, I noticed that the interior decor at Wine:30 was all dark and ghoulish. Closer investigation revealed that it was an art exhibit featuring the Davis Graveyard. Totally freaky, because earlier in the day, as I was driving down from Johnson Creek Road, I caught a glimpse of a front yard replete with realistic-looking tombstones; it reminded me that some people still manage to enjoy themselves at this time of the year... Serendipity of a weird type, one could say.
Anyway, the scene in the wine bar was just too good to pass, and, after ordering an herbal tea (mentioned in case anyone out there wonders what the heck I was doing in a wine bar, not that I care), I set out to draw a few of its elements.
My scanner is unresponsive since Gary reinstalled the system software on my computer. I don't know what to do to post images. The easiest solution may be to take photos of my sketches and post them rather than the scanned images.
[The best way I can think of revisiting the past is to look through my old sketchbooks, so this image came immediately to mind.]
My sketchbooks are a source of comfort and pleasure. Whenever I feel bored or unsure about a situation, or when I plain don't feel like being sociable, I know that, in my purse, a world of escape awaits. They are my memory of events I enjoyed, my record of places visited, my outlet for what can't always quite be said in words.
I drove down to Oregon State University in Corvallis yesterday to attend Valérie's Chamber Choir concert. This is a sketch of a few of the students singing in the choir.
I was extremely tired yesterday because I went to bed at 3:30 AM due to the concert the night before (and because I tend to go to bed late no matter what), As I was driving south in I-5, I had to try to stay, but couldn't help dozing off at the wheel for a few seconds. I woke up as my car was just about to go off the road. This totally freaked me out. I stopped the car and went into a store to walk and try to stay awake. Consequently, I made it late to the concert. I was sorry to have missed the beginning, but at least I managed to make it there without getting in an accident.
As I walked by the back to the church to get to the entrance, I could hear gorgeous Church Music (Bach) coming from inside. When I finally sat down on a bench, it was restful to enjoy the wonderful music, the perfect acoustics and look at the beautiful stained glass windows. Valérie is is Section Leader for the Altos and was awarded a certificate at the end of the concert.
I don't like driving at night when familiar landmarks are not visible, but felt reasonably awake on the way home. I got off at a rest stop barely 30 miles out of Corvallis to rest for 5 minutes... I woke up 40 minutes later because some people were talking in the parking lot, otherwise, I'd have slept on for hours. I eventually made it home while driving carefully and changing radio stations every few minutes.
Anyway, the big name at the show at the Roseland Theater yesterday was the Glitch Mob, and the best way to describe this is badass Electronica. They were quite good. The walls and the floors were vibrating.
The most intriguing aspect of this concert was that the music was essentially sound-based and directed from computer touch pads. the guys were nice; they hugged fans, posed for photos, and in my case, signed my sketchbook.
I was driving in my car last Sunday, listening to KBOO's Electronica show, when the DJ announced free a free promo for the 8th caller. Amazingly, I won tickets to a show at the Roseland Theater! So, the obvious guest was Julia (I couldn't imagine Gary ever wrapping his mind around Electronica...). We got there late, and I think that the performer playing when we got there may have been Deru. The other name on the bill was Free the Robots, so I am not entirely sure who was the DJ... Anyway, it was pretty loud and heavy Electronica.
(Speaking of Deru, if you click on the "Say Goodbye to Useless" album on his MySpace site, you can then click forward to "Fadeaway," a totally haunting remix of a -possibly Philip Glass?- clarinet piece.)
This young woman caught my attention because she reminded my of Julia, but an older, more sophisticated Julia. She was wearing a vintage sweater and skirt and a 1940s style flower ornament in her perfectly curled hair.
Flutter is my favorite shop in town to browse and marvel... So I couldn't miss their fourth anniversary party for anything. And for a rare glimpse into reality vs. sketches, here is also a photo of the scene I drew, but from a slightly different angle.
Julia who started college last year at age 16, got inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. It is really a credit to all the work she's done, while looking totally unfazed.
Each student's name was called one at a time and they had to go to a table to sign their name on an official document, light a candle from the candle set on the table, then walk across the floor to shake some guy's hand who gave each student a nice certificate with their name on it, then walk back to the table with the certificate and burning candle to pick up a white rose and then back to their space in the auditorium... It was totally weird, in a sort of nineteenth century pageant way.
I sketched a few of the people attending. The woman with the scarf was apparently a visiting officer from the national chapter of the honor society, but that didn't stop her from taking Julia's seat at the small dinner afterward (despite the presence of Julia's jacket and bag), and then from looking cross with us when Julia reclaimed her seat. That was a bit awkward.
This is a sketch of an "Efficiency Expert"who came to give a presentation at my church.
She went in great details over the benefits of using the many (unmatched) mini lazy-susan spinning trays ("for toiletries!"), pink fabric drawer inserts ("so cute"), drawer organizers ("for toothbrushes and toothpaste!"), etc. she'd brought with her. It was a bit obsessive-compulsive, but to each his own...
Yet, the suggestion that these props were a necessary means to an organized house (and an implied condition for the ultimate goal of pleasing God) struck me as ridiculous and laughable. I don't think God cares about the state of my drawers.
We went to see the Face to FaceElton John and Billy Joel concert at the Rose Quarter stadium. After hearing Gary play their music for the last 29 years, I wasn't overly enthusiastic about going; but this concert was so fabulous, I was won over by the great music and the performers' showmanship. Great time.
This is a view of the stadium from where we were sitting. The music was so loud, I was glad we weren't sitting any closer...but it sure looked like the people at the front of the stage were having a blast.
Some sketches of Elton John, Billy Joel, a few band members and screen backdrops.
The sketches above are of the audience near us. I drew Christopher (top right middle), Valérie (second at lower right) and Monica-Sophie (edge of page on lower right).
I found the souvenir paper sign on the way out of the stadium, near a table where T-shirts and Polo shirts were respectively being sold for $40 and...$60! What a rip!
The Estate Sale over, it sat empty and forlorn, like a cursed, silent sentinel recalling terrible things passed.
The house came on the market two months after we bought our house in 1994. On a sunny afternoon, I went down the street to take a closer look at the house. I tried to peek in through the back windows, to see how it compared to our rambling fixer. Priced at $20,000 more, it was a clearly nicer house: cedar shake siding, boxed-beam ceilings, two staircases... A couple bought the house shortly thereafter.
Over the course of the following year or two, they embarked on a grand-scale remodeling project. Money was apparently no object. The roof was removed down to the attic floor, the siding was replaced after an earthquake-proof retro-fit of the outside walls, the attic walls were raised 3 ft., then the roof was rebuilt. Everyone in the neighborhood had an opinion about the project: they were either daring pioneers updating an old beat-up house in dire need of attention, or wild-eyed heretics bent on damaging a classic neighborhood landmark.
One day, when curiosity finally won over me, I knocked on the door and introduced myself. The wife, D., seemed pretty nice. She invited me in and offered to give me a tour of the house. I admired the curtains D. made out of brightly colored translucent silk to cover the small living room windows; but without a fireplace (removed to expand the back of the house), the space was now just like a large entryway. The dark stained furniture was Asian and Far Eastern; candles, statuettes and figurines were set on low tables and on shelves. D. told me of her plans to paint over the Pepto-Bismol Pink walls in the dining room, which clashed with the inviting cushions on a couch against the wall. I wished my house also came with glass chandeliers adorned with crystals. D. showed me the kitchen next. Even though it was spacious and one of the nicest new kitchens I'd ever seen at the time, it didn't fit with the Arts and Crafts details in the house. Her husband, J. had removed the service staircase; the back of the living room had been merged into an eating space and two columns were awkwardly merged into a wall. Still, I couldn't help comparing it to the orange Formica eyesore-of-a-kitchen in my own house. I felt envious. Right off the kitchen, French doors opened to a peaceful private yard fenced with tall bamboo. Back inside, D. led me to a wide, airy staircase going up to the upper floors. The rooms upstairs were spacious; the bathroom was old-fashioned and lovely, with a great clawfoot tub; there was ample storage space in a linen cabinet nearby. On the third floor, the attic had been transformed into a Master Suite/Palace with skylights, luxurious-feeling carpeting, a balcony at the back, and an amazing bathroom with expensive fittings; beautiful tiles covered the floor and walls. I wondered why I'd ended up with my ugly house, while these people had been fortunate to end up with a house I would have loved as it was before its unnecessary remodel, Craftsman detail et all.
I disliked D.'s husband J. as soon as as I met him: here was the driving force behind the dismantling of some of the things that had made this house great from the start. J., when asked, said they had moved from Northern California, and was vague about his occupation: he was, he said, and entrepreneur. Looking around at the messed-up living room, I thought that meant "Nouveau Riche." J. was clearly proud of his work on the house. To remove the chimney, he had instructed his stepson to go down to the basement and hammer away at the chimney's base with a mallet until the chimney came unraveling down the walls! J. then bragged that he would sell the house for over $300,000 in a few years' time (this, after buying it for a mere $160,000), and then he would buy himself five acres to raise sheep. What a jerk, I thought. He had messed up a perfectly great house.
As the years went by, and even though we lived down a block around the corner, I lost sight of D. and J. Although two of our children were the same age as theirs, we just ran in different circles. But I shook my head in disgust every time I drove up the street and saw the large 80s style round window looming at the top of the stairwell; it was like an open, unblinking eye. And like the rood over the side porch entrance, it was ostentatious...but, I had to admit, it somehow fit. Perched on top of a small earthen berm, the house, with its steep roof and tall trees nearby was grand.
Time went on. I rarely saw any activity near the house, only dim lights on the inside. The ubiquitous Tibetan prayer flags were frayed from flapping in the winter winds and faded from the hard summer sun. The concrete walls supporting the property were leaning a bit more each year; moss covered the slowly crumbling porch stairs.
Then, one day, I saw a sign advertising an Estate Sale on the sidewalk in front. I went down to the house, wondering if the owners were perhaps moving.
The house was full of people looking for a bargain. But what immediately caught my attention were the dirty, worn floors, and the grime all over. The kitchen in disarray; cabinet doors were torn off the hinges; granite counters were broken and chipped. The yard, - the once peaceful Asian bamboo-fenced refuge -, was overgrown with weeds, its small altar askew, the steps off the porch broken. The moldy smelling basement suggested long-term problems. As for the items for sale, they suggested misery, catastrophic events, or a hasty departure: a few pieces of prohibitively priced import furniture, a collection of old Grateful Dead CDs, half-burnt incense sticks, worn, faded cushions, rusty paint cans, unidentifiable tools, a few cans of food, half empty bags of cereals, mismatched cups and plates, and scraggly potted plants sitting here and there...
What had happened? Where was D.? Was this a moving sale, I asked the weary-looking man minding the cash box set on a card table. Looking away, he reluctantly gave me the shocking news: the owner, J., had recently passed away, and D. had herself had passed away from cancer several years before...
Recently, it seems that everyone on Facebook has been posting celebrity look-alike photos as profile pictures. I wanted to do something different, so rather than putting up a photo found on the web, I decided to draw my own profile image... This drawing was inspired by a shot of Marty Feldman in his role as Igor ("eye-gore") in "Young Frankenstein" (1974).
We've been without a television since the beginning of November, so we watched the much-anticipated Lost season opener at the house of some friends of ours (delicious brownies).
Like every time I've watched Lost, I didn't understand anything to what was happening. (In a nutshell: Locke isn't really himself, 'cause he's dead; Jacob is God-like but gets killed nevertheless; Sayid dies but -just kiddin'- he wasn't really dead after-all; various alternate reality situations run parallel to each other, etc.)
I did these drawings in my sketchbooks during the show.
I was at Claim Jumper with Gary, and a woman sitting at a table nearby caught my attention. She was in her 40s and pretty, and with the black dress and heavy jewelry she was wearing, was clearly dressed for an expensive date. It set my imagination going: was this a "kept" woman, who was meeting with her lover?.. At Claim Jumper, of all places?
The two following sketches are a good example of what the luxury of time allows one to achieve, as opposed to a rushed sketch.
In the first sketch, I was sitting in a waiting room, and with no desire to read the usual old magazines, I had plenty of time to work and complete the sketch of the other woman sitting in the waiting room, first focusing on her, and then, filling out the details around her: the walls, furniture, decor, etc. Nice.
The second sketch was started while I was waiting in the chair for the endodontist to come to look at my tooth. It is a quick sketch, on a spread that includes unrelated things, with merely some cursory details about the experience. And yet... it depicts that particular moment accurately.