Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Finishing the mural and Back to school

On Saturday we worked nearly all day on the dragon mural at Desert Ridge Mall. I was in a bit of a panic because I was so far behind schedule.

I worked hard trying to get the dragon looking good because a photographer for a local paper was coming that night to photograph it and me while I worked. Mike came along because Phoebe couldn't make it and we made A LOT of progress.

By 3pm it started looking a lot better, so I decided to go home and clean up before the media people showed up. That night both Mike and Phoebe came along and a lot more was done in a short time!

Here's Mike helping me again on Sunday. I love this man, he had 10,000 things to do and took this time to help me. After this we went to the airport and he flew to San Francisco to shoot drawing demonstration videos for The Academy of Art University (which is where he is now).

And here's a picture Phoebe took of me on Sunday evening, as I finished up. 

Here it is almost finished. There was a pillar in the way, so it was hard to step back and get a good picture. I'm glad I got to do this though, it was like the culmination of my project that I did in Ireland! Also it's amazing to see the entrance gate of Shankill Castle painted here on a building in Phoenix.

That evening we had a little mini celebration for Chloe's birthday a well. Her present from us though is that she's flying back to Missouri to visit her boyfriend before she leaves for Scotland next semester. She flies on Wednesday and Mike is home on Thursday, so I'll be driving back and forth to the airport a lot.

The last few days I've been trying to catch up on mask making and both Naomi and I are "Back to School". Her online classes have started and I'm back teaching after school art at the local elementary schools. It's been a bit hectic (and hot, very hot).

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dental surgery, a mural and Phoebe's exciting adventure

A week before Phoebe's school started she was granted a huge scholarship to attend the Oxbow School in Napa Valley. A few months ago she'd applied  to this prestigious art boarding school in Napa Valley and was obsessed with the idea of attending, I'm so glad she'll get to have this chance!

From Phoebe's application

This week I had another procedure at the dentist. Anyway here's a tip; when you're at the dentist for a four hour procedure and he loads to up with nitrous and turns to you and says "So, what do you want to watch on Netflix?" Don't say "Dexter". "Dexter" is the wrong answer.

Anyway while I'm recovering from this I'm painting my mural at Desert Ridge Mall with the Mural Project. A program from The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance. The chosen image is from my book project in Ireland, An Caisleán.

This is the window of the empty storefront that we're painting (Phoebe is my assistant this weekend).

We showed up super early to beat the heat and then wound up waiting for the primer paint. This is Phoebe relaxing.

I asked for black paint to prime with, but when they went to the paint store the girl tried to "mix" a black primer and kept adding black to the "tint". (Meaning she was adding black to white and made gray).  Anyway even my youngest students know you don't "mix" a black, and that black and white make gray. I feel a little sad for that girl.

This is where we stopped for lunch yesterday...

We worked last night as well. I forgot to take pictures, but my favorite comment was from a little boy who asked my why I need that ladder. "It makes me taller."
"Well, you need a giraffe, not that!"
"Oh, I guess I could use a giraffe!"

Maybe next time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The haboob and the blackout

        Yesterday evening another giant wall of dust hit the city. The trees bent and broke, and the wind was dangerous and intense. It howled for forty minutes and just as we sat down for dinner, the lights went out. Of course that meant no a/c as well, which worried me, the wind was still a hot wind (like a hair dryer on the highest setting). Then as we fumbled through dinner by candlelight we noticed it was misting rain. This changes things, maybe it will cool down.

     We gathered our dog and Naomi decided to take a walk. The wind was there but not bad and it was just a drizzle. Debris was everywhere, and trees and branches were down all around us. Emergency vehicles raced past us. And the misting rain and the breeze was fantastic. As we approached the supermarket the rain began to pour, so we cut across the lot and noticed the metal corrals that hold the grocery carts were flipped over and tossed to the side by the wind. We approached the covered area in front of the Safeway where a group of supermarket workers mouthed and gestured "We're closed" at us through the glass doors. We wandered past them shrugging and pointing to the roof. From here we walked the outdoor mall under the roof till we had to run back home in the pouring rain. It was the best dog walk we'd had all summer.

After a few hours of playing cards and then dominoes by candle light, Naomi offered to read us some of her book (Mike and I couldn't see well enough to read, but she was all for trying). She was reading "The Secret Garden", a book she'd found in her room in Ireland a few weeks ago and started there. I remembered last year when Phoebe worked on the musical, that it was full of ghosts, so I thought it'd be perfect! Alas the book has very few ghosts. Naomi said it was all in the beginning when everyone got cholera. Oh well.

Today when I left to teach art camp I noticed a clothes hanger high up in a tree ..... That was some storm.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Drawings from Ireland and new mask orders

So now that we are home and have access to our scanner, Mike and I have been going through our sketchbooks from Ireland.

Mike's drawing of a banjo inside the resident's cottage

Mike of course has many, many drawings as that was the focus of his residency.

He did some incredible work. This is inside the cool passage by the coach house.

And this is his drawing from the path in one of Shankill Castle's many gardens.

My drawings are not quite as complete. This is from the graveyard by the Medieval Mile Museum.

These are birds near the waterfront outside our apartment in Dublin. There was a very drunk man (or at least he was acting drunk) hanging all over us asking questions. His name was Peter, and Mike was sure he was trying to rob us. Mike kept closing the top of his backpack and 2 seconds later it would be open again. Of course when we draw in public we're very aware that we're vulnerable to this so we take precautions with our valuables.While he didn't get anywhere, he WAS very, very annoying.

Elizabeth's art on the poster by the gallery
Since we left Ireland our friend and host from the art residency, Elizabeth Cope, had her art open at a show in Cork. Unfortunately the banners and posters outside the gallery were vandalized by a very prudish person with a sharpie. I'm sure the free publicity about the vandals has only helped though. The gallery was reporting over 1,000 visitors a day!

drying mask
Since we returned I've been working on custom mask orders from my shop. 

This one is drying after getting a glue layer to smooth the surface.

This mask is a depiction of an anime character.

Here it is finished. There are pinholes to see through in the eyes. I shipped it yesterday, and of course I have more masks to work on. 

Next week I'm back to teaching art camp as well. Teaching kids can be challenging for me, but I'm forever grateful for my job with Abrakadoodle Inc. Thanks to this company's sponsorship I've been able to travel to Morocco and Ireland for art residencies in the last 18 months, which is pretty amazing.

In other news Naomi comes home from camp in California today. Phoebe's there as well, but she's staying on another week. Also the first day of school is creeping ever closer! Just another week and a half!!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Art updates and Mike hits the road

So right now we're slowly adjusting back to summer in Phoenix, which is not an easy task...

If you're used to celsius the temperature ranges from 40º to 46º
So I've been using the pool lately. 

close up

While we were off in Ireland last month my sculpture "Night Over Tétouan", that I'd created at Green Olive Arts in Morocco last summer was permanently installed into the Colegio Español Jacinto Benabente De Teuan (aka the Spanish School) and they held a dedication for it...

Jeff from Green Olive Arts went to represent me and I recorded a video message in Spanish to be played at the opening. (If you're reading this, thank you Jeff!!)

This movie I created props for ages ago finally opened in London last week which is super cool.

This is my sketchbook, titled "The Thing in The Lake". It just went on tour with the Brooklyn Art Library and will be in Toronto next weekend! The address is at The Historic Distillery District, 9 Trinity Street, Suite 200, Toronto.  From there it tours with the show to Chicago and then Atlanta, GA. Anyway if you live in any of these places the show will be pretty amazing, and some of the books are incredible!

A few days ago Mike and Phoebe left to go to San Diego Comic Con. Here's Mike, his publisher, and his editor, promoting his new venture, Forbidden Futures at SDCC! 

Anyway in a haze of confidence I submitted for a mural job before I left for Ireland. I got it, but the developer wants me to recreate this image from my book "An Caisleán" (that I just made for my Ireland art residency). The kicker is that I agreed to do this in August.... In Phoenix. I'd better get acclimated fast!!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Final days in Ireland and a journey home

On the street in Dublin

Our last days in Ireland slipped by quickly.

Early one morning Mike and I trekked over to Dublin Castle and drew at an outdoor cafe. Chloe woke up and found us so we wandered through the castle grounds. After seeing so many different castles in Ireland, I have to say the Dublin one was a little standard.

Next door to the castle the local ceramic society was having an exhibit. It was quite nice to see some local art on display.

outside the archeology and history museum

   We also managed to make it out to the Archeology and History Museum, which was definitely worthwhile, if only for the bog men remains on the second floor. They also had some incredible artifacts from the Vikings and of course Ireland has an Egyptian collection (Doesn't everyone? Is there anything left in Egypt?)

Here we are finally finding the museum after getting a bit turned around.

This is a statue on the corner by our apartment. I still don't know anything about it because it's a "talking statue" which means you download an app to your phone and wave it at the symbol to get it to "talk" about itself. We didn't have a working phone, so .... No idea, but lovely to look at.

On our last morning we hauled our many suitcases down from the 4th floor walkup and caught a cab to the airport. The one I'd booked never showed, but a van sized taxi with impeccable timing brought us there without a hitch. Before we knew it we boarded our flight to Boston.

In Boston we had a 5 hour layover. Not enough time to leave the airport but plenty of time to get incredibly bored and tired as the time change caught up with us.  This is Han Solo and friends in the cockpit of a plane in Boston.

Phoebe relaxing in a rocking chair display at Boston Logan Airport.

And these are all the rain boots I unpacked never used in Ireland, thanks to their unprecedented heat wave. Of course we arrived in Phoenix 20 minutes after a massive downpour. The moral is never try to chase the weather.

Ireland was full of surprises for me, there were things I loved, like the bookstores in every little town and everywhere in Dublin. A people who embrace reading are a people I can relate to. 

The ease of traveling in a foreign country using English was also remarkable, but perversely I missed the challenge of overcoming a language barrier. 

The lack of air conditioning was not really a bother because even though the temperature was mid eighties (ºF) it was still cooler for us and I wouldn't expect a/c. 

I did expect ice cubes and the ability to make ice (no ice trays), which is apparently was something I was already supposed to know about Ireland and the UK (but seriously, they have ice in Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Canada.)

The one thing that surprised me the most was that Ireland had the worst wifi of any country I've ever visited. I know you're thinking....You were in a cottage at a castle in the countryside! Except we were also in an apartment in Stillorgan, an apartment in Dublin and inside Dublin airport.... All I can say is that it was a bit faster than dial up in year 2000.

Mike's drawing of the castle gate at Shankill Castle

I really did love our visit there and all the people (and animals) we spent time with. Ireland will always be a special place for us.

Friday, July 13, 2018

In the middle of it all in Dublin

Ha' Penny Bridge 
       Our apartment was on the north side of the River Liffey and next to the Ha' penny bridge. The Ha' penny Bridge is officially the Liffey Bridge and was built in 1816. It's called the Ha' penny bridge because it used to cost pedestrians a hay penny to cross it. I know this because double decker tour buses passed by our window all day long announcing this information, usually in English. Then the French one would come, then the German one and well you get the idea.....

Once we crossed the bridge we could wander the very touristy district of Temple Bar. It was nearly always packed with people except in the early morning. We really enjoyed being in this bustling international part of the city.

The girls and I using "other" bridge, that's newer, not as crowded and wasn't as pretty, but only 100 feet from the Ha' Penny bridge.

Right away on our first full day in Dublin, we walked over to The National Gallery of Ireland. It's free and full of amazing classical art.

It was nice because inside was cooler and the heatwave had not let up.

Chloe and Phoebe in the portrait gallery.

Mike at the National Gallery studying a painting.

I really loved this impressionist painting of a woman with geese. Though I learned while staying on the farm at Shankill Castle that geese are kind of scary... Too many teeth for a bird and that hissing thing they do is very unnerving!

A wide shot of the portrait gallery.

Two amazing paintings of north Africa, which brought me right back to last years art residency in Morocco. I think I actually got emotional looking at them, unfortunately this is not a good, or clear image...

This is Rosa Bonheur's painting of a stag. She is fascinating because this amazing artist liked to paint animals in settings like the bog, but couldn't manage in the long bulky dresses of this time, so she had to get a special license to paint wearing men's trousers. Crazy!!

Chloe with an incredible mosaic on the street.

After many hours of trying to see everything we were pretty done with looking at art for the day. We stopped off at a burrito place for Chloe, who decided that experimenting with Ireland's take on Mexican food was a good idea. Then we headed back to our four story walkup and listened to the history of the Ha' Penny Bridge in Italian.

"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut


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