January 31, 2011. I'm posting the same sketch again tonight, this time a little closer to the actual color.
January 30, 2011. For some reason I decided I needed a little sketch of the Russian artist Ivan Kramskoi in my sketchbook. I'm not sure why, but I guess I like his intense expression, and I can picture his mom telling him to comb his hair. My sketch makes him out to have stronger features than the real guy, but it was good practice. I think I need to add a speech bubble to the sketch now, and have him say something.
January 29, 2011. If you followed my blog last year, you might remember I went to Nepal to work with a school there for a week. Anyway, back in October I was telling my fifth grade students about the conditions in the classrooms there- not all the rooms had lights, none had heating, dirty floors, outhouses on the dirt playground... So, my students decided to put on some fund raisers to raise money for the school. I told them it was no problem- if they wanted to, no one was going to stop them. They had about 8 weeks. They sold cookies and paper plates with pictures they drew on them. Today I sent off the money- 400 euros. I was amazed.
January 28, 2011. I tried a little watercolor of Ilya Repin's portrait of Modest Mussorsky tonight. It's been a rough week, fighting some germs that were determined to discourage me. I don't know where you're at right now. If you're human like me, chances are you've gotten discouraged now and then, for one reason or another. I'm sure you've heard it before, but don't give up. Just heard about someone we know who tried to give up last night. Unfortunately, I've known a few friends who have. For what it's worth, hang in there. Like I've said before on this blog, sometimes it seems like there's no one out there who cares. But as sure as there's a sunrise tomorrow, there's a God who cares.
January 25, 2011. I can feel it coming on... sore throat, fatigue... I think I'm one of the last ones to get it this year. Up to this point I've been able to steer clear of it, in spite of most of my students and other staff coming down with it. But it chases you down. Gotta drink more water. (Sketch is of a house I saw in Meiringen.)
January 24, 2011. I occasionally feel like an apple in one of these presses, squeezed from every angle, and producing nothing but a little juice to show for it. I sketched this during the weekend. It was used as decoration in the guesthouse where we stayed. To a poor apple it must look like an elaborate medieval instrument of torture. I know the old analogy, that we are like chunks of coal, slowly turning to diamonds after enduring tremendous pressure, but I think with us, there's more than pressure that's necessary. Pressure alone doesn't build character. I think it has more to do with how we respond to pressure. I would venture to guess that the more intense and prolonged the pressure, the greater potential for growth of character is present.
January 22, 2011. Meiringen, Switzerland. The parents of one of my students very generously gave us a weekend in their guesthouse in Meiringen. The town is known for its Reichenbach Falls, the scene of the fictional character, Sherlock Holmes' death. Our kids got a half-day lift ticket and we relaxed in town. I did a little sketch of the train station here in town and filmed the process with time-lapse.
January 19, 2011. I watched an interesting DVD the other night with my wife called My Sister's Keeper. The film shows how a family deals with one of the daughters having cancer, and, I have to admit, I was quickly wiping my eyes when my kids unexpectedly came home toward the end of the show. Anyway, one of the themes of the movie seemed to express how life is a gift that we each experience, and how important it is to be thankful for it, even when it is cut short. I made a connection with that theme and a conversation I had with a student last week about gifts in general, as we just celebrated Christmas. The theme of that conversation was that it's important to place more value on the giver of the gift than the gift itself. (Yes, we are thankful for the hand-knit socks, but even more thankful for Grandma who made them.) I suppose the logical application, then, in regards to being thankful for life, is to be even more thankful for the persons who gave us life, first our parents, but ultimately to the creator himself.
January 18, 2011. It seems strange to me to see gulls here in Basel, flying along the Rhine River. They seem so out of place. I grew up with them in Long Beach, seeing them all the time. Sometimes I feel like one of these Basel gulls, longing for the spray of the sea and warm walks in the sand. I guess I'm just California dreaming today, and this is my self-portrait.
January 16, 2011. (on location in Basel today) Psalm 18:6 "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears." I've been down under at times, for whatever reason. During those times it's hard to believe. I feel disconnected. Sometimes I remember to call out for help. Sometimes it takes me weeks. But when I do, he is there.
January 14, 2011. Our computer made a big boom the other day- that's my technical explanation for it- anyway, it seems to be dead now, so that means I won't be scanning any drawings for a while. So, here's a photo of a little sketch I did today after work, showing the August-Macke Schule just up the road. I was in the mood to do an on-location sketch. I did leave out the colorful mural that graces the walls of the school- just didn't have enough time to make it worth it. And, my wife asked me why I didn't draw the tree and bushes in- well, I'm tired. It's Friday.
January 11, 2011. Just about every night my son wants me to tell him a story. It can't be a story that anyone has ever told before. It has to be completely new. I've done this ever since he was in diapers. Many years ago, I got the idea to record a few stories for him on cassette tape. He still listens to it now and then. Last night we listened to him telling a story that he had made up himself on that same tape. It was hilarious, but at the same time a little sad, because it made me realize how much older my kids are now. Tonight's story is titled, "Fritz on Alert." I won't know what it's about until I start telling it.
January 9, 2011. Pouring rain. Slushy snow. Sopping wet clothes. Terrible conditions for skiing and snowboarding. Yet the slopes were full of hearty adventurers, including my two kids. We gave them the afternoon to snowboard all they wanted, while my wife wrote thank-you notes and I sketched as many people as I could around me. It was a great vacation, and now it's back to work tomorrow!
January 8, 2011. Here's a little video of some sketching I was doing today with a friend of mine, Erik. We were hanging out in a cafe. I was sketching him as he was sketching other people. I found out it's pretty tricky trying to video yourself with your left hand while sketching with the other. Maybe I'll have to tape the camera to my shoulder or something. The weather was incredibly warm for January, so we even tried a little outdoor sketching without gloves or coats.
January 4, 2011. Got a little ambitious today, working on a new idea for a comic strip. Really only had to draw the top left sketch and put the thing together. I have no idea where any of this is going, but just enjoying having some down time during Christmas break to do this kind of thing. This particular one is intended to share with my students- maybe use it as a writing prompt. Who knows, maybe I'll work it out into a story.
January 1, 2011. It's a new year, so I'm trying something new. I downloaded Comic Life, a program for making comic strips. Here's my first go at it. When I was a kid, I used to make comic strips, and it would have been a dream to have a program like this. I love this stuff. Way too fun.