Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

The Art Critic

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

The heron was so recently dead that nothing had disturbed its carcass. Finding a comparatively dry and shady spot on the bank, I pulled out my sketchpad and mechanical pencil. Unfortunately, I only had a few moments alone before I heard him scrambling through the underbrush. Uninvited, he sat close beside me and gaily splashed his hooves in the creek.

“Howdy do!” he grinned.

“Hmm,” I muttered in reply.

He pulled some poison ivy from a nearby tree and nudged me. “Some?” he asked.

“No, I’m pretty sure it would kill me.”

“Oh, that’s right! Your kind is allergic to it. Boy oh boy, you don’t know what you’re missing!” He crammed a handful in his mouth, loudly chewing and smacking while still splashing his hooves. I tried pretending he wasn’t there.

Finishing his snack, he cheerfully asked, “Hey, whatcha doin’? You drawing?”

I nodded.

He bent over to look at my sketch, blocking my view. “Hey! You trying to draw that dead heron there?”

I sighed and nodded.

“Well,” he said happily, “you sure ain’t no Audubon. I gotta say your drawing is awful, absolutely awful.”

“Thanks.”

“Birds sure aren’t your forte. Hey! I got an idea! Why don’t you try drawing me?”

“Can’t. I only draw fantasy.”

“That so? That’s too bad. You know, I like posing for artists.”

“Hmm.”

“I used to pose for Apelles.”

“You knew Apelles?” I asked, instantly regretting opening my mouth.

“Oh, sure, knew all the old Greeks. Then much later I moved to Italy and knew ‘em all there, too: Piero di Cosimo, Andrea del Sarto, you name ‘em.”

“Caravaggio?”

“Almost. He killed a man and had to skip town the day before I was supposed to pose for him.”

That gave me an idea. I looked around for a big stick or a heavy rock. Sadly, there were none.

“So,” I mumbled, mildly curious in spite of myself, “how did you wind up all the way over here?”

“Oh, you know the story. Wife had relatives here so here is where she wanted to be and I didn’t feel like butting heads over it with the old nanny goat.” He paused to chuckle at his own joke. He was the only one who did. “So here is where we settled. Then the kids came along… Kids! Hey! Get it!” He nudged me. I did not deign to respond. “Yep, kids and then grandkids and then, you know, you just lose your energy and wanderlust as you get older. You find yourself stuck. But I ain’t complaining, mind you. Once folks like Rubens died out and people like Courbet came along my modeling career was pretty much kaput anyway. And back in the day when there were factories here a good, honest satyr could make a pretty good, honest living. Still, you know, there are times a body can’t help missing the old days.”

“I know,” I whispered.

From a distance arose the chattering of an approaching gaggle of joggers, their noise frightening away all the wildlife. He dove into the underbrush. “Catch you satyr!” he laughed.

“Not if I’m lucky,” I muttered as I watched his shadow merge with the foliage. I then returned to the sketch and studied it. As you can see for yourself, the old satyr was right; it doesn’t look much like a heron. I blame him for that since he distracted me.

In Memory of a Cat

Monday, May 29th, 2017

He had a hard entrance into this world and a hard exit, but in between Snowball had a pretty good time. He was Sarah’s constant companion from 2003 until the 22nd of this month. Occasionally he’d deign to leave her side to teach me a few life lessons, such as it’s perfectly normal behavior to hide under the couch whenever Kathy’s relatives would visit or that it is never a bad time to take a nap. An even better lesson he taught me was never to hold a grudge. One may take understandably strong umbrage at having one’s tail stepped on, but it’s beneath one’s dignity to nurture the insult and let it fester. He taught me we all get our tails stepped on but since a lifetime is short, be it one life or nine, it shouldn’t be squandered in cramped pettiness when it can flourish in expansive forgiveness. He was one pretty smart cat. May he rest in peace.

Sparkle Comics

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

There’s a new comic book publisher in town and its name is Sparkle Comics. Although new, it has already published three comic books as of this writing. One is titled “Shocking Macabre Theater,” one is “Wolf Hunter” and the other is “Adventure Man.” All three showcase some remarkable local talent, but I’m going to concentrate on the last title by mentioning it was crafted by the gifted coterie of Messrs. Matt Brassfield, Wheeler Hall, Jeremy Hoyt and Jason Young. There was somebody else, too, but his name eludes me at the moment. Now, if you don’t reside in the Dayton area you’re no doubt pining, “Oh! I would love to purchase and forever savor these and future titles, but I live too far away. Whatever shall I do?” Mourn no more. You can now purchase copies online! To order their fine products, just go to www.sparklecomics.com and click on “shop.” You’ll be glad you did.

Reminiscing

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

It was seven years ago this month that a nefarious criminal mastermind, whose name, if any dare speak it aloud at all, is whispered in hushed and terrified tones as if one were speaking it in a library, unveiled a website he christened “Ok, PANIC!” Its purpose, as he himself confessed, was to “showcase the talents of his favorite artists in an online collaboration.” Oddly, this modern-day Moriarty, whom I shall call Wheeler Hall for the sake of convenience, invited me to be one of the contributors. One of his conditions was that each artist had to have his own website, a thing I had never considered and had no idea how to even create. Thus, in a remarkable display of generosity and forbearance, Mr. Hall created a site for me, the very site you are looking at now! And for the last seven years everything on this site has been his doing. All I do is send him a drawing with some more-or-less relevant accompanying text. Wheeler does all the rest. He’s quite a guy, despite his repeated attempts to enslave all of London. I would send Wheeler an inked sketch for PANIC! and the majority of the time he would color it electronically. My first submission was in pencil, however. After all these years I still recall Wheeler saying he tried coloring it but, because it was shaded in pencil, the results did not meet his standards. So now, a little belatedly and as a thank-you to Wheeler for these past seven years, I redrew the image in ink, aging the characters seven years naturally, for Mr. Hall to perform his magic. I trust you will enjoy the colorful result.

Mr. Potter aka Sherlock Bones

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hi. This is Mr. Hall. And while Mr. Potter’s words are very kind and I appreciate them very much, he is the true genius. I am a mere dilettante (as you will see from feeble colors on this piece) who he allows to color some of his art. Ok, Panic was a blast, and I’m so glad that I could be a small part of it.

Mr. Hall aka Moriarty

The Chess King

Monday, February 13th, 2017

This was their fourth day as husband and wife, or, as she liked to think of it, their fourth anniversary. She shook her head in happy, dumbfounded amazement. Here she was, a full-grown, level-headed adult as giddily head-over-heels in love as a little girl is with her first man teacher. She stared dreamily at her husband as he sat under the lamp reading the newspaper and couldn’t help but smile. She felt foolish and embarrassed and ecstatic and wonderful and every joyous adjective under the sun. She never knew love could feel like this… that she could feel like this. And she knew, knew to the depths of her electrified soul, that this love would thrive forever.

Her husband, seemingly unaware she was observing him, looked up from his paper at the wall, let out a slow sigh, bit his lip and gently, nearly imperceptibly, shook his head. Her heart instantly shattered into a million pieces. “Honey,” she cried out, “what is it? You look so sad! What’s wrong?”

He jumped, a little theatrically, at her voice. “Oh,” he said, “you startled me. I didn’t know you were there. Were you waiting for the paper?”

“Don’t change the subject, dear. You looked so sad! What is it? Is something wrong?”

He stared at her for some time, an inscrutable look in his eyes. For the first time in their relationship she felt alarmed and the sudden worry made her stomach hurt. After a while, although it seemed like ages to her, he let out another low, long sigh. He then reached his hand out for hers and quietly said, “I have something to tell you; something I think you should know.”

She swallowed hard. All her joy momentarily gave way to fear and bewilderment. She noticed her hand was trembling as she reached out to seize his. What could be troubling him? How dare any evil thing invade their perfect world! Who or what would dare hurt this wonderful man? With that last question she threw back her shoulders and her love, her powerful love, swelled up again and obliterated her fears. There was nothing that could harm him that her love could not heal!

“I have something to tell you,” he said, “something I guess I should have told you long ago.”

“What is it, dear?”

“Did you read today’s paper?”

“I glanced at it. Why?”

“There was an editorial about how chess tournaments make the news only when a grandmaster seems eccentric. When the competitors are all normal, or at least reasonably normal, you never hear about the games.”

She stared at him blankly for a moment. “So? Honey, don’t torture me like this! Tell me what’s wrong!”

He let out another sigh. “Do you follow any chess tournaments when ‘normal’ people play?”

“Honey, I never follow them even when the crazies are playing.”

“Well” he averted his eyes, “I used to play chess, long ago. I mean, I really, really played chess. In fact,” he swallowed, “in fact, I was so good I even won the championship one year. I was a master, a grandmaster. I was… well, I was the world champion.”

Her eyes grew large. “He never said a word! I had no idea! I knew he was smart, but… wow! Is there anything this man can’t do?” It was inconceivable, but her love for him suddenly grew even greater!

“That’s wonderful, honey, absolutely wonderful!” she cried, “But why should something like that depress you?”

He still didn’t look at her. “Well, it was so exciting and all. I was on top of the world, you know, winning the championship. It was great. But then,” he sighed, “then the officials did some investigating and… well, to make a long, horrible story short, they stripped me of my title and barred me from ever playing again.”

“But why, dear, why would they do that to my precious angel? What happened?”

He looked her straight in the eye then and said, “They found out I had a checkered past.”

She filed for divorce first thing the next morning.

Marriage of a Mouse

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

First Sarah published two books of poetry. Then her Aunt Barb Stork published a children’s book titled Jeep the Cat. Then another relative, whose name escapes me for the moment, published a collection of short stories. Now Sarah’s mother, Kathy (aka Kathleen) published her retelling of a Japanese fable, titling it Marriage of a Mouse. The book has a little bit of a history. It was written and illustrated before Sarah was born. It garnered its fair share of rejection slips with one bearing a handwritten note stating the book was seriously considered for publication before being turned down. Then Sarah came along and the book was forgotten for twenty years. But now it’s available to readers and lovers of anthropomorphic mice everywhere! You can purchase your copy from Amazon. You’ll be glad you did!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 5th, 2016

In Memory

Friday, November 4th, 2016

The following is part of a poem by Abraham Lincoln. I feel it’s slightly analogous to what I was trying to say in this painting, even though the painting, by comparison, is but a shabby and decrepit simulacrum. His meditation may not express quite the degree of optimism I tried to hint at in this image, yet I still feel both works share some little things in common; albeit his words are far, far more powerful than my chaotic daubs. And now, Mr. Lincoln, sir, the floor is all yours.

My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
‘Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that’s earthly, vile,
Seem hallowed, pure and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-tones that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As, leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar –
So memory will hallow all
We’ve known but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things,
But seeing them to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray;
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I’m living in the tombs.

The Juggler

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

And here is yet another old piece, so old that I’m rather surprised the paper hasn’t crumbled away. I think it was my second attempt at using technical pens. There’s not much I can say about it except that I like the hat.

Where Lethe Runs Dry

Friday, September 30th, 2016

This is an old oil painting. It’s not good, even by my low standards, and I can’t deny it might even be kitschy. It was just an experiment, and an experiment is what one does when one doesn’t know what one is doing. I wouldn’t have posted this painting if I had chanced upon a more successful piece on the same theme. The reason I’m posting it now is because I’m reading a biography on Henry James and I’m at a part where many of his family and friends are dying. That brought to the fore remembrances of people I knew who have passed away. They weren’t expatriate literati or cosmopolitan aristocrats, but they certainly deserve some sort of memorial. This piece is not ideal, but it’s all I had on hand to pay a silent tribute and pensive farewell to all those who have stepped over the threshold. “And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”