These days the freelancing lifestyle has been keeping me plenty busy. So much so that I almost didn’t have a chance to enter the Japan Day poster art contest this year.
The deadline came and went and I watched it blow by because I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule. Then they extended the deadline and added two free tickets to Japan to the prize. I finally had a couple of days off for the first time in at least a month so I pulled an all nighter just in time to make the deadline earlier this week then slept till mid-afternoon.
I wish I’d had more time to develop the illustration, but when a deadline comes a calling you just gotta let things fly. The dominate image of my illustration was a paper crane. I’d foraged around the apartment for a paper crane to use as reference and found this little guy my wife had folded and tucked away snugly in a sake cup on a bookshelf. To be perfectly honest, I think I like this photo better than my illustration.
I’ve been watching the Ken Burns classic documentary The Civil War the past few nights. The stories are told mostly with still photographs and read letters.
I have been moved to tears while listening to the Gettysburg Address. And I have eaten beans and collard greens two nights straight after listening to a soldier in a letter home pine for his wife’s (or was it sister’s) beans and collard greens.
Below is an except from the documentary 1990 documentary of a letter a soldier wrote to his wife before battle. (Sullivan Ballou Letter)
A good year has passed since I have worked on my Street Musician Project. That changed a few weeks ago while on my way to catch a train in Grand Central Terminal. I heard music that instantly transported me back to the time I spent in Japan.
Michael Montaperto played Romanza in the Graybar Passage. I was immediately drawn to the haunting music which transported me in my memories.
I taught English in several Kyoto Prefecture schools. At the end of the day at Otokoyama Junior High School, Romanza, a Classical Spanish guitar solo would be played after the final bell. It was where I was introduced to the song and I would wander out of the teachers’ room and gaze out across the rice fields. It was always a strange yet moving moment for me, gazing at the beautiful Japanese landscape while listening to the haunting Spanish music.
I was at that school for two weeks every two months, and everyday I was there I would listen to that wonderful music and memorize the landscape.
A few days ago I saw a similar image of the beautiful rice fields of Japan being washed away in an instant as a tsunami engulfed the land. Houses and cars washing over the rice fields, rice fields now incapable of nourishing anyone for a who knows how long. Many of the farmers and families also washed away.
. . . find a different software that better suits your learning style.
A couple of years ago, I purchased a copy of NewTek’s Lightwave 9. Three or four times I gave a serious runs at learning the 3D modeling and animation package but found it daunting.
I stumbled across Maxon’s Cinema 4D and was immediately drawn to the color coded icon heavy interface. Lightwave is a quality package but I found it’s text menu’s not very intuitive.
So after a glimpse of C4D’s visual interface I decided to stick my toe back into the 3D waters. I discovered that I could download a demo version of C4D. The only catch is I can’t save anything but I can learn. Whenever I choose I can activate that function for 42 days. Once that trial period is over I can continue to use the software sans the saving function.
I have yet to activate the software but the screen shots below display some of of what I have learned and also shows a visual comparison of the two interfaces.
This is one of my favorite "Japan" paintings, inspired by a procession of kindergarden children all holding bright yellow umbrellas on a snowy day
” . . . You never know what you’re gonna get.”
— Forest Gump
For three years beginning in the late 90s I worked as an assistant English teacher in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan (JET Program). When I began that adventure I was sure it was going to top my college days as the best time of my life.
The experience did not disappoint, and it was wonderful to be able to savor every moment as I would savor an exceptional meal. When I left for Japan my paintings were dark and moody. When I returned home my mood was reflected in my work which was bright and full of color.
Having recently begun teaching a couple of college level computer art courses, I have begun to realize much to my astonishment that teaching is something that I enjoy far more than I ever realized, a fact that was masked from me by the plethora of experiences that went along with teaching in Japan.
They say we only use a small portion of our brains’ potential. Whether that statement is true or not, I don’t know, but I have recently discovered the same can be said about how I use Photoshop.
I have used the software as a professional artists for more than 15 years and have become set in my ways. Photoshop keeps developing new tools and I do things the way I have always done them. I certainly have only been using a small part of Photoshop’s potential.
Since I recently began teaching a computer art course, I can no longer leave all of those strange menus and tools un-touched. It has been quite rewarding in the class room, and on my own as I explore new and forgotten tools in Photoshop CS5 in my own creative ways.
I had my students create self-portraits using Photo Booth, a random assortment of stock images and Photoshop CS5. I joined in on the fun.
Thursday was the last night in a series of free sunset summer concerts at Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, NY. Having regretfully missed all in the series, when I arrived home, I literally ran over to catch the last half of Bobby Sanabria’s jazz and Latin music concert. I arrived out of breath, plopped down on the lawn and worked away in my sketch pad while enjoying the music. That is until I was told to put my sketch pad down and dance the merengue with everyone else by Sanabria himself.
On my walk home after dark the old gothic mansion caught my eye. After I tried unsuccessfully to capture a steady image I snapped this picture by placing my camera in the grass blindly and pointing it in the general direction of the mansion. This photo reminds me of images that I took with a pin-hole camera when I was in high school which usually had a very low perspective because the camera needed to be placed on a solid surface for long exposures.
I am not one to name drop but I am sure that are a number of people out there thinking, OMG!! Chris Brown!!
Now, let me take a moment to explain that my lunch was with Westchester based singer songwriter Chris Brown who plays a mean acoustic guitar sings with a James Taylor style of music. Not to be mistaken for, which he often is, the Hip-Hop/R&B superstar Chris Brown. Now the Chris Brown I know was performing under the name Chris Brown long before the other Chris Brown was born, but occasionally he is still greeted by disappointed teens showing up at his gigs expecting someone else.
I used to work with Chris who is also a talented graphic artist. When we worked together I would often hang around well past my appointed time to throw ideas at him about innovations, breaking molds and plain ole art. From time to time we still meet up to talk about old times, new times and new ideas.
Yesterday our conversation ended with a tinge of disappointment in his deep Barry White like voice. He asked if I had been painting. I hung my head and mumbled . . . no. Paint he rumbled. . . PAINT!
I spent a good part of my day working on four panels that are a part of a larger 12 panel piece.