Saturday, September 24, 2016

Oh my... where to begin?

I haven't posted for awhile, and for the most part, the reason was good, though more recently, it's just been lack of energy. 

About thirteen months ago, I was in a freak accident, and broke, among other things, my neck.  I had always thought that a broken neck was a death sentence, or at best, guaranteed wheelchair subsistence for life.  Yes, that can still be the case, and believe me, I know how lucky I am!  Kudos to my local EMT's for doing everything right and nothing wrong, and to my neurosurgeon and his team for being simply brilliant!  Also, if my son hadn't been there, I would have died on the spot.  He was first in a long line of those saving my life.

I'm walking just fine, except for some mild balance issues.  Apparently, there are nerves/muscles in the neck that inform the brain about balance.  But for the most part, that is still good.  I'm in a walking program at a local school, and there's no doubt about my progress.  I started a year ago with my Aspen cervical collar and a walker, and did one lap.  When summer hiatus was over a couple of weeks ago, I returned to do 18 laps the first night! (Six laps = one mile) 

My hands and arms are still problematic.  Nerves don't heal all that quickly, so I was given a 12-18 month time frame to expect healing if it's going to happen at all.  Left hand lost much strength and dexterity, though the arm is pretty good.  I can reach for stuff, but often drop it, because my grasp isn't what I have come to take for granted over these many decades of life. Still, there is slight improvement there, after 13 months.  My right hand is nearly 100%, though just short of it, and thank goodness, I'm right handed.  My right shoulder is a bit of a mess, probably from the original trauma, where two ribs on the upper right side were also broken.  Can't reach upwards easily, or far.  Working on that with PT.  Big issue with my right arm and hand are the constant pins and needles sensation.  Meds help, but don't fix it entirely.  Gets a bit tiresome, really.  But I'm glad to have basic functioning in that hand.  Hey, I'm touch-typing right now!
Fortunately, as important as the brain-to-hand connection is to making art, the eye-to-brain connection is far more important, and that's unaffected by the accident.  I did join in the 29 Faces In February Challenge this year, and created my usual sketches from movie stills.  My choice of movie(s)  was the X-Men series.  I had to take photos with my cell phone, and upload to Facebook from that.  My son cleaned out several rooms of the house, thinking it would need to be renovated for wheelchair access, and in doing so, packed away my good camera, which loads directly into the computer.  Much stuff is still packed away, in the barn, including the camera.  If I knew where it was, I'd go straight for it.  Hence, there are no new photos in the computer since the accident.  So, I don't know if I can upload the X-Men pieces to the blog.  There must be some way of getting them from the iPhone to here.... will have to look into it.

Sadly, in July, my brother passed away, my last surviving brother.  He was de facto keeper of the family photographs, just because they were there when he moved in to the old homestead.  His son didn't want them, but I jumped at the offer to take them.  I expected about a dozen, but instead received a windfall of treasures dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century.  Those were courtesy of my grandmother's scrapbooking.  I feel so blessed to have them!  Want to archive them in some way for the rest of the family to access freely and enjoy.  Meanwhile, this week, I've started a drawing-a-day personal program, not just for drawing, but to do any artwork.  For the most part, I want to work off of these marvelous photos!  Again, can't post pics here yet.  But this is where I am at the moment, anyway. 

I have much hope for the future, even though the original trauma, my return to work, and a couple of my meds all contribute to a pervasive energy lag.  I'm still alive (that prospect was in a certain degree of doubt prior to my first surgery) and I can get around just fine (my neurosurgeon said, during my first office visit about six weeks after my discharge, that he had gone into the first surgery hoping I would have enough use of my hands to operate the controls of an electric wheelchair!) and I can still make art.  I count my blessings all the time, believe me.   I'll try not to wait another year and a half to post more, LOL!  Oh, and I'll try to avoid freak accidents, too.... heh heh.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

29 Faces, and counting. Or not.

I seem to have lost the entire first part of what I had just written, all from clicking on one wrong thing, or pushing a wrong button -- I don't know.  

Summarizing:  I didn't finish the 29 Faces Challenge, as a severe and lingering winter has really sapped my creative energies.  I do have some faces I did in the computer's Paint program, to show.  Those are intended to be relatively fast (about 10-15 minutes) and sometimes I don't like them, so I don't keep them.  There have been a few more sketches from The Hobbit movies, and now that the last movie has been released to dvd/br, I can select scenes from that too.  

I was not satisfied with two sketches of the dwarf, Kili, and will have to do a third.  I drew him smiling, and though the actor has a gorgeous smile, the character doesn't smile much.  A non-smiling drawing of him might carry more of a likeness.  His brother Fili, however, was acceptable the first go.  

I started one of Bolg, the Orc, but he was so disgusting to look at closely, that I have to do that one in short stages.  I haven't had this much trouble since drawing the Mouth of Sauron!  Both are utterly gross to view with the analytical intensity needed to draw them.  

Ready for the pictures?  

   ORI, the Dwarf, portrayed by Adam Brown

GLOIN, the Dwarf, portrayed by  Peter Hambleton, who also did the voice-over for one of the trolls in the first movie.  Yes, this is the Gloin that is the father of LOTR's Gimli!  

TAURIEL, the Elf, played by Evangeline Lilly
Her character was entirely fabricated for the movies; she was not in any of the books by Tolkein, much less The Hobbit
Still, Lilly did an acceptable job with the part, I think. There was a huge, romantic story line in the movies that included her, but was never touched by Tolkein. 

DORI, the Dwarf, portrayed by Mark Hadlow.  He is offering Gandalf the Wizard a cup of chamomile tea at the "Unexpected Party."

William Kircher as BIFUR, the Dwarf.  Yes, that's an axe embedded in his noggin.  He goes through the whole series like that!  Kircher also did one of the troll voice-overs.  I think he likely had more lines in that scene than he did in the whole rest of the series of three movies, where he was restricted to fairly unintelligible grunts --due to the presence of the axe in his head, no doubt!

Both FILI and KILI -- Dwarves, and heirs to the throne of Erebor, after their uncle Thorin.  
I'd have shown only the Fili sketch, but they're on the same page, and I needed to count Kili as a face of the 29.    The smile here is smaller than the first sketch I did, but still not a good likeness.  He needs to look more intense!  Dean O'Gorman plays Fili (on the left) and Aidan Turner plays Kili (right).

And, on an unrelated note, one of the race of Men (though some claim there is Vulcan in his heritage!).  

When Leonard Nimoy passed away recently, many of us in the 29 Faces Challenge group expressed our sorrow by drawing or painting him.  Many portrayed him as Spock, his iconic role from Star Trek.  I preferred to show him as his still vital, though aging self.  As a photographer of considerable talent, he portrayed women whose physical beauty was contrary to the standards of beauty of our time and culture, yet were sensitively shown as having a great intrinsic beauty of their own.  I'd like to think he would have approved of my showing him at this stage of his life.

A quote he left us all with is included on the page:
" A life is like a garden.  Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.  LLAP."  (Live Long And Prosper)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

29 Faces in February, 2015

Not much to say at this time, as it's only a week into the challenge.  I'm alternating serious sketching (like last year) with some fast sketches done in the computer's Paint program.  For now, I'll just show a bit of the serious sketches.  The others are more like exercises to loosen me up.
The movie(s) I've chosen to work from is The Hobbit series by Peter Jackson.  I pause the movie at a chosen point and sketch the face I've selected.  I get to pick facial expressions that no live model would be able to hold for long, expressions that tell a lot about the character him/herself.  I have done several others, mostly from The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey.  Not sure if I ever posted them here, though. They are of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, The Great Goblin, Azog The Defiler, Bert The Troll, Bard The Bowman, Balin (one of the questing dwarves of Erebor) and Beorn the Berserker (skinchanger).   I expect to have all the dwarves represented, at some point!

I have three sketches for you tonight:

Thranduil, King of the Woodland Realm, aka, "Mirkwood."  In this scene, he was telling Thorin that most might suspect the dwarves were on a quest to reclaim their homeland, but he suspected the quest was for something more practical: the Arkenstone.  Lee Pace plays Thranduil.

A second one of Bard, the Bowman, different from the one I had done before, different scene.  I stopped when interrupted, then decided I like it better "unfinished," which is to say, it is finished, now.  Bard is portrayed by Luke Evans. 

The Master of Laketown, played by Stephen Fry.  Sleazy and self-important, he is here considering whether to accept Thorin's offer of shared wealth in exchange for Laketown's cooperation in the quest -- or throw the lot of them in the town lockup! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

29 Faces in February, 2015

Well, it's February!!!  
Time to start another "29 Faces in February" Challenge -- are you ready?  
Am I (Only time will tell......)

First, a shout-out to Ayala Art for hosting this invigorating challenge again!  Yaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy.......
Second, I thought I'd preface that I'm going to mix it up a bit this year.  I'd like to continue making the same type of face-art as before, but this time, I want to make a bit more from my computer Paint program.  The idea of those is to do them quickly, maybe 20 minutes or less.  It may not make great art, but should loosen me up considerably, and also make me less reliant upon pausing movies and sketching from the stills.  I think I need that, but want to finish a project or two of movie stills portraits.  If I can, I'll alternate days of each.  (It won't be 'Photoshop,' only 'Paint.')  Who knows, maybe I'll throw in a new clay face or two, as well.

And with that, I shall say.......
"Let the Games BEGIN!"

Friday, February 28, 2014

29 Faces For February

I would like to state once more that I do NOT sell these sketches I've been doing.  They have been marvelous practice, and I've learned a lot over the past year and a quarter or so that I've been doing them. 

I'd also like to thank Ayala Art for sponsoring the 29 Faces For February challenge!  It is a blast to participate in this.  Not only have I gotten to see the work of some incredible artists of varying skill levels, but I know I have made new friends along the way.  What could be more important than that?!  

Thanks again -- and see you again next year!

29 Faces For February

"Les Miserables," continued (see earlier post for beginning)

The barricades have gone up all around Paris, and our story concerns one of them.  Marius and Enjolras, Eponine, Gavroche, and their friends have put up their barricade, and are making a stand for the Republique.  Many, many officers have been dispatched to quell the uprisings, and the battle is joined.  In order to spy on the rebels, Javert goes undercover, but is caught.  Valjean has joined them to find Marius, whom he realizes is destined to take care of Cosette when he himself must take his leave.  Valjean is given the chance to kill Javert, and be rid of his nemesis forever, but spares him.  He is a compassionate man, having changed completely when the bishop trusted him.  Meanwhile, the battle continues between the insurgents and the military.  

Enjolras and a Republique sympathizer, Grantaire.  Enjolras holds high one of the red banners that has been a hallmark of the rebellion. They knew what they were getting into, and there is no hint of apology nor fear in this act of defiance. 
Their cause is just.

Javert is undergoing a crisis the night that the battle is over. Can he endure being in the debt of an ex-con who broke parole? Can he continue to uphold the letter of the law? The Law, which has been his steadfast identity all his life, as steadfast as the stars in their season. He addresses the stars quite often. But will they answer him this time? 

Fantine sings softly to the dying Jean Valjean. He interjects his replies:

"M'sieur, I bless your name"
                         "I am ready, Fantine."
"M'sieur, lay down your burden."
                         "At the end of my days"
"You raised my child in love"
                         "She's the best of my life."
"And you will be with God."
"Come with me
Where chains will never bind you,
All your grief
At last, at last behind you.
Lord in Heaven
Look down on him in mercy."
                       "Forgive me all my trespasses
                         And take me to your glory."
"Take my hand
And lead me to salvation --
Take my love,
For love is everlasting.
And remember
The truth that once was spoken:
To love another person
Is to see the face of God!"

(Credits to Boublil and Schonberg)

And ultimate credit to the master of it all: Victor Hugo, author of the original Les Miserables.

This quick sketch is from a painting that Hugo obviously sat for.  If I can find out who the artist was, I'll come back to give proper credits .  
(Still having problems getting a name for the painter.  Seems like it was done in 1899, though.  I'll keep on trying!)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

29 Faces For February

"Les Miserables," continued  (For first installment, see entry of February 14, 2014)

Marius is involved with a group of young men who want to see an end to the returned monarchy and restoration of the Republic.  They meet over a wine shop and plan their moment to protest.  A popular public figure, General Lamarque, supports their cause but is near death.  It is decided to strike their demonstration during his funeral procession.  

The people line the streets, and during the procession, begin to sing, softly at first, then more vigorously.  The scene ends with Marius and the group's leader, Enjolras, waving a red flag, symbolic of the rebellious uprising.  

"Do you hear the people sing, singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will NOT be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!"

(These are just quick, rough sketches, done in one afternoon.  I left stray lines in, on purpose.)

The firebrand of the group, Enjolras, after the spirited song and flag waving.  The crowd is psyched for the uprising, and he is slightly out of breath. He wears a tricolor floret made with the bleu, blanche et rouge (blue, white and red) that were the colors of the French Revolution.

                                          Enjolras, played by Aaron Tveit.