Thursday, July 29, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Dinos in The City"

It's been a while since I've taken my sketchbook out. Tonight after work, I decided to break in a brand new 8"x10" sized book...a bit larger than I usually use. What better subject matter than some dinosaurs at Union Station!

For several weeks now, I've been driving by a life-sized T-Rex on my way to work. There currently is a Special Exhibition on display, aptly called DINOSAURS UNEARTHED! Check out the link, if you want more information. I haven't seen the full exhibit yet, but it looks fun. I saw the big dude shown above when the sculpture was being set up. It was lowered from a huge crane, held dangling from straps...looked just like a scene from a Jurassic Park movie. Very surreal looking on a foggy day, too.

And talk about "surreal"...that was my experience when I relocated to the back of Union Station to sketch this Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus, if you're "old school").
As I'm about half-way done, a security guard comes up to me asking for I.D. I complied...kind of surprised that it was necessary. When he asked if I was a "professional", he said I'd need a permit next time. "A permit to just draw?!!" I asked, incredulously. Turns out, the guy was new to the job, and was just being a bit overly careful. Made some sense, when he said that professional photographers have to get permission to shoot there. It all turned out fine when a supervisor told him it wasn't a problem...artists come over there all the time from Hallmark. (One might be inclined to imagine an enthusiastic "Barney Fife" scenario...except that the guy was very polite, and wasn't all nervous and goofy.) So, in the end, we had a nice talk, I made a new friend, and am giving the Dino Exhibit some free publicity!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

PAINTINGS - "From The Past" Pt.2

I had family in town last weekend, and my eldest daughter stayed through the week. I didn't have time to do any new artwork for the blog. So, I'll continue the series I started a couple of weeks ago and show you a few more of my oil paintings.

Above is a little 5"x7" I did on the 4th of July, 2003. It's one of my first attempts, right after my wife, Cat, had encouraged me to start painting again. Those are some flower pots next to a chair on our front porch.

This next one is of a little farm in Solomons, Maryland, done in 2004. This painting is 12"x5" (after I cut it down from a larger composition). We were visiting Cat's Mother and eldest sister who live in Solomons. Since we drove on that trip, instead of flying, I was able to bring along my painting gear, and had fun wandering around for a couple of days.

This landscale was done in 2007 during a workshop taught by Joan Parker. I didn't quite finish it to the degree that I wanted, 'cause I found myself enjoying talking with other artists, instead of focusing on the job at hand. This view is in a little valley of farm land, south of Lawrence, Kansas. The piece is 10"x4".

This last image is of a very special place to me...Cat and I used to go there sometimes and enjoy quiet moments watching animals drink from the creek. The water flows from the spillway, at the west end of the lake in Shawnee Mission Park. I painted this in's 6"x8".

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cat's Memorial Bench

This weekend, a small group of family and friends braved the incredibly hot weather on Sunday, and went out to the Overland Park Arboretum. We gathered to see the new plaque on the memorial bench dedicated to my wife, Cat. We shared some tears and a few words from the heart, then took a brief walk in the gardens. It was so hot, however, that we didn't stay very long. A special thanks goes out to everyone who was able to be there. I'd also like to thank those who donated to the bench memorial fund. Cat would be so pleased that you honored her in this way.

Below are a few photos of "Cat's Bench" which is located within the "Legacy Garden" area of the Arboretum. It is such a beautiful setting, with the sounds of a bubbling brook nearby. I hope, if you are in Kansas City, you can visit the Arboretum (when the weather is cooler) and take a moment to breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds, and enjoy a quiet moment of reflection while sitting on Cat's Bench. Cathy loved to go there often and take photos of the flowers, so bring your camera and enjoy wandering the many trails and walkways.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TABLETOP GAMING - "Making a Battle Octagon"

Well, folks...this is it...the last of my hand-made tabletop gaming props that I've got left to show you. Behold...
"The Battle Octagon of Serious Discomfort!!"

This isn't "terrain" per se, but it was a commissioned request from my buddy, Steve. He was wanting a game that could be played during our lunch breaks...sort of a gladiatorial arena, whereby characters could go at it, and the roll of the dice would determine much of the outcome. Part of the risk factor would include the floor opening up to reveal a pit full of some deadly contents. A manly-man-testosterone-driven game if there ever was one! Which makes the next part kind-of sad...

To my knowledge, the game was never used. Steve has since had two little daughters, who are both in their pre-school years. I think the little darlings are using the Octagon to keep their Happy Meal Toys in. (You can still bring that thing back to the office,'s not too late!)

Okay...let's take a closer look. The Octagon is made mostly of pressed particle board, and painted to look like metal plating. There is a lid that is attached with Velcro strips. On the underside of the lid is a plastic pocket that holds 4 interchangeable "Pit Disks".

The four disks are painted to look like LAVA...ACID...POINTY SPIKY THINGIES...and nasty SWAMP WATER that could have lots of creepy critters swimming in it.

Two sides of the Octagon have handles that, when pulled, open up the pit doors. Run, Forest, Run!

Here are all the pieces and parts.
Top Row: base...floor 1...floor 2 with sliders...all 3 sections assembled.
Bottom Row: Floor 3...Floor 3 on top of sliders...walls and disk shape...all parts assembled.

Here are the components, ready to be glued together, and painted.

One final adjustment had to be made, once it was all finished. I had to drill a hole in the center, to be able to push out and remove the "pit disks".
I don't have any plans to create new tabletop gaming terrain in the near future. But, who knows...I might build some stuff to show "making of" demos just for this blog. (I'm sure Steve's daughters would love to play with 'em when I'm done.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PAINTINGS - "From The Past"

After having recently participated in the STEMS Plein Air painting event, I've been in a couple of conversations about my making an effort to do more painting. I'm still processing a lot of things, since losing my wife, Cat. She was such a huge part of my creative life. As I'm deciding about how much I actually "desire" to paint for myself, and not just in memorial to her, I've been looking at some pieces I did some years ago. My paintings have not been easy for me to part with...partially because I like keeping them to learn from my efforts. And also for the memories they hold. The nice thing about a blog...I can share them...and keep them!

The painting above was one of Cathy's favorites (not sure why) from 2003. It's looking over a hill as the coming rains approach. It is 10"x8" oil on board. This was around the time that Cat had encouraged me to start painting, once I quit doing freelance work.

The one below is a view near my house (though a new school now sits where I stood to paint the Catholic church steeple). This is 8"x10" oil on board, probably from the same year. I think that my mother-in-law, Doris, owns this one (if I remember correctly).

The next two are from 2005. Some co-workers and I formed a small group, to go paint during lunch breaks. The view of downtown Kansas City is 10"x8" oil on board.

The statue of George Washington is in a park near Crown Center. It's 6"x8" oil on board.

This last painting of a rusty old truck is one of my favorites. It's cut down from a larger painting, and is about 5"x7"...again, oil on board. It was done in 2003, at a 3-day workshop with painter, Billy O'Donnell. It was my first experience with a class on plein air painting. Really enjoyed it...Billy's a great teacher!

Okay...that's it for this post. I need to get back to the only painting project I have time to think about for the next few weeks. I'm giving a much-needed fresh coat of paint to the entryway, stairs, hall, and an upstairs bedroom at my house! (But maybe I'll play hookie some and go outside with the oils!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Some Bots and Not-Bots"

Life has been more complicated than I expected lately. Consequently, I have not gotten out my sketchbook this week, as I had fully intended to do. Hopefully this 3-Day 4th of July weekend will give me a bit of space to draw some. Until are some robot drawings from my past sketchbooks.

And as the title of this post are some "not-bots". These vehicles do, however, have some robotic features. The one below, it could be argued, has some features borrowed from a chicken. Not sure why it came out that way. But I happen to like chickens, so it's okay by me.