Sunday, March 30, 2008

my left hand

I sketched my left hand after learning a few things about drawing negative space (seeing things as a flat outline) -- amazing how much that helps.

Now looking at my left hand, I reflect on a few of the things it has done for me in the last 49+ years:

  • held my mother
  • held my father
  • helped me crawl
  • pushed toys around on the ground
  • petted cats
  • played with dogs
  • caught a ball
  • helped steer a bicycle
  • rolled newspapers
  • made model airplanes and rockets
  • held books open so my other hand could freely write
  • opened doors
  • held button holes open
  • had the trust to hold a nail when my other hand held a hammer
  • played a saxophone
  • climbed over rocks
  • moved me through water
  • pointed at a bird
  • focused a camera lens
  • pulled out a thorn
  • paddled a canoe
  • held the reigns of a horse
  • held other hands
  • operated the clutch on a motorcycle
  • moved pieces on a Monopoly board
  • steered many cars, opened many windows
  • stroked a cheek
  • flew a plane
  • stayed up all night waiting to type a paper for me
  • learned how to rest peacefully on "asdf" keys
  • held a bow steady
  • rested my shoulders from the weight of a pack
  • picked a flower, pulled a weed
  • reached into a hive of bees
  • danced to the music
  • rubbed the sleep from my eyes
  • pushed up my glasses
  • pushed a cart
  • carried groceries
  • kneaded bread
  • shot a pistol
  • slapped a mosquito
  • held vegetables while they were being chopped
  • gathered wood for campfires
  • climbed a rope
  • scratched an itch
  • paddled a kayak
  • washed a car
  • swung an ax
  • lifted a shovel
  • played a native flute
  • gallantly tried to save the rest of me during a fall
  • endured two surgeries to recovery
  • held many, many, things steady so my right hand could do the other half of the work
  • blocked the sun from my eyes
  • rested peacefully while my other hand was sketching something...

Keep up the great job, my left hand. Glad to have you on the team!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

#14 Tried my hand at sketching

I've enjoyed looking at a number of sketches in other folks blogs -- its interesting how their sketches capture a different feel than the same image in a photo (check out the blog paintedcats for some great examples).

I decided to try it out myself, starting with a moleskine notebook and the book The Creative License by Danny Gregory for motivation and hopefully some technique.

Very early in the book, without any instructions, he says to: "draw a chair, draw a mug, draw a table, draw a person ... do not erase any of your lines (ink), date your drawings, don't read ahead, go for it!". Kind of a jump in the water and see if you can swim exercise.

So the drawings above are my results with an ink pen. I was expecting worse, but then I wasn't expecting much! Very interesting... We'll see where this heads off to... I guess the point of doing this is to be able to look back on them... I'll only count the new thing this once, but I'll (hopefully) come up with more sketches to post from time to time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

#13 John McEuen concert at Javalina's

On my way home this evening I stopped by Javalina's coffee shop to enjoy a great outdoor concert by John McEuen (of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame) and one of his sons, Nathan. Nathan's band had apparently stopped by Javalina's sometime in the past, liked their experience, and talked his dad into coming out to Tucson for a concert. I'd been meaning to check out what the Javalina's concert set up was like for sometime and tonight just worked out.

Great concert with John playing guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin; Nathan playing guitar; and a local (?) fiddle player (Danny?) sitting in on few songs. A lot of music history tonight!

Now that I've tried out this informal parking lot venue, I'm sure I'll be back to check out other musicians on the Javalina's calendar. Its nice to see a small coffee house doing so much to provide a venue for musicians and music lovers.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

when is a saguaro not a saguaro?

When is a saguaro not a saguaro? When its a cell phone tower. The two tall saguaros in the top left are actually disguised cell phone towers located at Mcgraw's Cantina. There are a number of fake saguaros around Arizona, some of them quite realistic looking from a distance.

Here is a view of our metallic friends from the top of the hill.

... and a real saguaro outside the main entrance to Mcgraw's. Mcgraw's Cantina is a local watering hole / steakhouse / burger place. Nice views from here looking down on the Pantano River (usually just sand, sometimes flows strong after a lot of rain).

#11 environmental art creation, #12 timelapse

One of the artists that fascinates me is Andy Goldsworthy -- he creates really interesting works of art using only natural materials found at the site of production. Some of his art is intended to last for hundreds of years; some to last only a few hours...

I'm getting ready to turn the big 50 next month, so I thought I should go outside and play in the dirt like a kid today... I tried my first attempt at "environmental art" and made two artificial flower pieces using only parts of plants and flowers found elsewhere in my yard.

It was a fun way to spend a few minutes. I have a new appreciation for the amount of time and patience Goldsworthy spends on his art!

I really didn't have an advance plan of attack for these, just cut some plants and played in the dirt. The flower to the left is made from parts of four plants, the one above from two.

There is a very cool documentary on Andy Goldsworthy worth renting that shows him creating his art. One of my favorite segments shows him creating a "thread" of icicles that appears to be threaded back and forth through a vertical slab of rock -- completed just before dawn to take a few pictures at sunrise, all gone a few hours later. He also does some impressive stone work, dynamic art in streams, etc.

Check out some of the pictures of his work on the web and if you like what you see, go rent the DVD "Rivers and Tides" to see him and his art in action (literally).

And in keeping with the "new things" theme, I tried making a short time lapse video of the above. Maybe I should stick to Hot Wheels and dump trucks! Don't ask what I was trying to do with the line of flowers, I don't have a clue...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

#10 set up a photo slide show

I took above snaps on a hike in Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah) back in 2006. Visitors drive to the rim of the canyon and then stop at scenic overlooks on the road along the rim or take one of the many descending trails for a hike.

I arrived early to catch the morning light -- really truly amazing colors and formations! This was one of those neat hikes where every few steps and every turn in the trail presented a new view worth stopping for and admiring. A nice day.

So for the new thing for me tonight... I uploaded a few of my Bryce Canyon pictures and figured out how to set up the above slideshow using (very easy).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I ran into this burro last weekend while wandering around NE Tucson. Very friendly; wants an apple...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

#9 tour "Rails In The Garden" train layouts

I attended the annual "Rails in the Garden" tour in Tucson today. This was put on by a bunch of model train enthusiasts (extremists?) who build scale train layouts in their backyards and gardens. This years tour involved visiting eight different houses.

This house had a really nice backyard (I really liked the beehive fireplace). Their train layout was in the planter back where two guys are standing. The next picture shows the layout in more detail...

Two separate tracks, two trains. My picture doesn't do them justice, but most of the trees in the layout are all living bonsai trees of various sorts. Very cool.

This was a huge backyard layout -- over 1000 feet of track and lots of neat features including water features, an open pit mine that rail cars would descend into, and a really neat locomotive roundtable.

To the left you can see part of the locomotive roundtable. It was really well built with a very realistic "dirty" industrial feel that I'd expect around a real rail maintenance facility for that era.

Another portion of the big layout. Note the cliff dwellings build into the mountains in the background.

My still pictures don't do justice to the actual moving trains, so I made a 25 sec low-res video using my camera to show that the trains really do move!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

#8 sonoran night sky

As another "new to me" experience, I decided to play around with some of the features in photoshop. The above image is composed of parts of three different pictures I took last weekend on the Romero Canyon Trail: some floating scum/foam in part of a creek, saguaro ribs, and a single blooming flower. Colors altered, flower duplicated and rotated, hand drawn flower stems, all on a canvas background effect. I think it came out kind of cool!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Starry Nights at Romero Pools (in daylight)

I joined friends Gregg & Pat for a roughly six mile hike up the Romero Canyon Trail in Catalina State Park today. A very nice day out -- wildflowers starting to bloom and pretty good water flows in the canyons from snow melt up higher in the Santa Catalinas.

I saw two things at Romero Pools today that reminded me of Van Gogh's Starry Night painting: one was some swirling stream scum in an eddy, the other was a very cool piece of old dead wood that Pat found lodged in the crack of a rock (perhaps a tree root?).