Thursday, February 28, 2013

Post square 022813 ~ Sooner or Later (Pope Mercury)

Do you know why the pope, once elected, is expected to change his name? Because in the year 533 a prelate with the pagan name 'Mercury' was chosen, and the prudent thing for him to do, given the circumstances, was to opt for 'John' instead.

And the reason the cardinals are sequestered until they come up with somebody is that at one point there was no pope for years and frustrated Catholics shut the indecisive electors into a building without a roof and fed them only bread and water until they had a pope. ‘Conclave’ is Latin for with a key.

Now the guys at least have showers in their Vatican digs, built in 1996.

The question folks seem to be dwelling on is : When is the conclave? If it is sooner than later it is more likely that a familiar (Italian or, at least, European) face will be chosen. A few days ago, Benedict amended a law issued by Pope John Paul II stipulating that there be a waiting period of at least 15 days after a pope’s death. Benedict's amendment allows the College of Cardinals to choose whatever date they want to start the conclave.

The longer they wait, the more time the lesser-known outsiders among them get to be heard and enter the group of possibles. But it also might send a message to the rest of us that they’ve been indecisive, or worse, that there wasn’t a solid candidate.

There are 115 electors. More than half of them are European and of those nearly half are Italian. Asia, Africa and Latin America are represented by about a third and the U.S. and Canada the lowest percentage. No matter when the conclave takes place, sooner or later, given those statistics, don’t we already know where this is going?

I had more than my normal amount of coffee today, so this drawing does not conform to my usual careful (as in obsessive) coloring within the lines. I used at least two different colors for each 'section'. It has a lot of the same feel as my 'Ai Wei Wei' drawing of January 19th, also done in an agitated state.

The photo, from which this detail is taken, is of a row of cardinals at Pope Benedict's last general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Post squares 022613 and 022713 ~ Shipyard Under Water

Tried something different combining 2 days. The square of one day inside the square of another.

The bordering green square is from a photo on the 27th of a row of townhouses in DC through a watery car window. Looked like an impressionistic painting. The inside square shows the tile of a ceiling above a man who works at a shipyard in Virginia where a big job to build a carrier was just cancelled because of the budget deadlock mess.

This was a quick drawing using just 9 pencils, in contrast to yesterday's 82.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Post square 022213-022513 ~ Million Feet Under Heavy Hollywood

This drawing is composed of details abstracted from the photographs on the cover of the Washington Post for four days, from 2/22 to 2/25.

The first photo, on the 22nd, was of two men and a 9-year-old girl at a firing range. The article was about a woman in North Dakota, one of the gun-friendliest states in America, who is a gun control advocate.

The second photo, on the 23rd, showed a construction crew working 70 feet below ground and support walls looming above them, excavating for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The third photo, on the 24th, illustrated the article about the rebels in Syria being supplied with heavy weaponry by outside powers.

The fourth photo, on the 25th, caught the swirling skirts of the dancers on the stage at the Oscars ceremony.

I used 82 different colored pencils, chosen at random, to color in the design.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Post squares 022013 and 022113 ~ Peripatetic Cool

Peripatetic Cool? Where on earth did I get that title?

The left half of this little diptych comes from an article about casino managers in Maryland and how peripatetic they are. I had to look that up. Means to move around a lot.

The right half is from an image of the Kennedy Center where they are having a festival celebrating the arts of the Scandinavian region of the world and they are calling it "Nordic Cool".

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Post squares 021613 - 021913 ~ A Meteor, The Pope, Kabul and George Washington

A design using and abstracting details from the photos on the cover of the Washington Post for four consecutive days, the 16th through the 19th.

The stories behind each photo : the 16th ~ the surprise meteor that entered the Earth's atmosphere over Russia, the 17th ~ a fascinating article detailing the systematic dysfunction in the Vatican, the 18th ~ how corruption has manifested as a result of democracy in Afghanistan, and the 19th ~ a parade celebrating George Washington's birthday.

Each drawing is just 1.5" square. I used 76 different pencils, chosen randomly to color in each little section.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Post square 021513 ~ Number 22

I am not a follower of sports. I can’t tell you who won the World Series last year. So, I some to this story as an outsider. All I can share here is my take on the experience of one man.

Drew Storen, a 25-year-old off-and-on Stanford student, is a baseball pitcher for the Washington Nationals. Last October, when he was on the mound, the St. Louis Cardinals took the lead away from his team and ended up with the National League pennant in Game 5 of the Division Series.

The hardest part about this for Storen was that when he woke up the next morning there wasn’t another game to play so that he could fix it. He wanted to fix it right away and he couldn’t. He had a long winter ahead of him.

But this “engaging and energetic” guy with a “full-throttle attitude” wasn’t defeated. He watched and studied the final inning of that game and learned from it. This week he’s in Viera, Florida at spring training, getting ready for this summer’s baseball season.

I didn’t use the photo that went with this story on the front cover of the Post today. I found a more compelling composition from another photo on the cover of the Sports section, where the story continued. It’s from the back of Storen’s uniform, as he pitches, with his number 22, which happens to be my favorite, magic number.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Post square 021413 ~ The Green Wave

The students, the teachers, and all the staff members from the custodian to the cafeteria workers, are wondering what happens now.

Their school, Springarn High, in Washington, D.C. is closing due to a city-wide diminishing enrollment in the public schools.

When the doors to the school close, it will also mean the end of a basketball team which has had a rich history. The ‘Green Wave’ has turned out generations of college all-stars, first-round NBA draft picks, Hall of Famers and two legends who made the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list.

This drawing is done from a detail of a photo taken in a Springarn High hallway. I turned the gray tile wall into a colorful checkerboard by choosing a colored pencil at random to fill in each of the squares. I added patterns to the floor and door areas.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Post square 021313 ~ The State of the Union

The photo on the cover of the Post was predictable; smiling President Obama surrounded by applauding people as he enters the House chambers to deliver the State of the Union address. There wasn't much I could find to abstract that didn't look like a body part or piece of clothing. So I chose the top of the president's graying head and a few shapes behind it.

The drawing I did, I really don't like. It's weird. Boring. So I messed with it big time in Picasa. I spun it around, inverted the colors, posterized it, you name it. Still doesn't thrill me.

At least I get to do whatever I want with the ideas I come up with. Not like President Obama, who comes up with creative ideas that I'm sure he feels excited about. But he can't draw his picture his way without the agreement of a bunch of other people with their own colored pencils. And they want to draw things differently.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Post square 021213 ~ The More Things Change...

The Catholic church is facing division among its ranks. There are disagreements about issues such as contraception, homosexuality and the role of women.

Two-thirds of Catholics now live in developing countries, where values and focuses of faith differ from those in the secular West.

The new pope will need to figure out how to best communicate with all of his audience without alienating anybody.

There are a number of possible candidates for the papacy, from all over the world. The "favorite", however, is another European.

And the likelihood that there will be much attention given to the more liberal concerns is slim, since all of the cardinals who will be choosing the next pope were picked by Benedict and his like-minded predecessor.

The photo on the cover of the Post is an old shot of Pope Benedict, waving from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, just after his election. I chose a square inch of the landscape on the distant horizon for my composition and colored it with randomly chosen pencils. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Post square 021113 ~ The Year of the Snake

Today, on the cover of the Post, is a photo of the Chinese New Year parade in Washington’s Chinatown. Marchers carry one of those long, dragon-like costumes; this one depicting the lion dance.

The detail I chose to draw includes some of the lion’s mane. I made it red, because that is a symbol of good luck for the new year.

This is the year of the snake. If you were born in the year of the snake, as I was, you are regarded as intelligent, but with a tendency to be somewhat unscrupulous. You become bored easily and are very conscientious and diligent at your work.

You are relaxed and can often seem to be slacking off at work when, in reality, you are at the height of your creativity.

You are organized and precise. You like to work alone.

You become easily stressed and have to avoid hectic schedules or noisy atmospheres. You need calm and quiet to thrive and succeed. 

You are intuitive, introspective, attractive and graceful. You can be exciting and dark at the same time. 

You are contemplative and private, not outwardly emotional. You can appear cunning and reticent. You will plot and scheme to make certain things turn out exactly as you want them to. You are not a great communicator. 

Not everyone can live and be happy with you. It takes a patient soul, someone ready for the long haul, who can calm your nerves and deal with your obsessions with skill.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Post square 021013 ~ Mother Superior's Dog

In Tecate, a small city located on the northwestern corner of Mexico, Reina Ines Bahena, the mother superior of Our Lady of Guadalupe, has a pit bull called Big Head.

Big Head watches over the mother superior as she tends to her cactus garden at the only migrant shelter in town. I guess it's possible that he also offers his large doggie cranium, for a scratch, to the men who stay at the shelter run by the nuns.

These men, who are allowed to stay at Casa Migrante for no longer than four consecutive nights, are preparing to make an arduous journey in an attempt to cross the border into the U.S.

Reina Ines Bahena tries to discourage her visitors from their plans by warning them of the serious hardships they will encounter. But these men, many of whom have made the journey numerous times, only to be caught and deported back to Mexico, have families and jobs they want to return to. They have young children who are excelling in the American schools and older ones in the armed forces.

And now the pressure is really on, because the proposals being discussed for the overhaul of the U.S. immigration bill, if carried out, could lead to even tighter border security.

The composition of this drawing was inspired by a tiny part of a photo, that was on the cover of today's Washington Post, of the wall between Mexico and the United States.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Post square 020913 ~ Big Snow

The photo on the cover of the Washington Post today is of a woman trying to make her way through blowing snow on a Boston street. She's holding an umbrella in front of her hunkering body like a shield. The snow is streaking across the image in hundreds of white, horizontal stripes.

This drawing, an abstraction of one square inch of the picture, includes the back of her jacket and the wall behind her.

This weekend the northeastern region of the U.S. is being bombarded with a blizzard of record proportion. I'm thinking : "There but for the grace of God..." Although, it would be kinda fun, I guess, to try the snow shoes Santa brought me two Christmases ago. It's like washing your car so it will rain, or taking your umbrella so that it doesn't. If I didn't have those snow shoes, I'm sure that storm would have made a detour to West Virginia...perish the thought.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Post square 020813 ~ The De-greening of Europe

When the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan had its nuclear meltdown, Germany found an incentive to phase out nuclear power.

They turned to brown coal, or lignite, for their electrical needs and also to hard, black coal.

The hard, black coal is shipped as an export from the U.S., where the demand for hard, black coal has plummeted. This is a side effect of the rapid rise of hydraulic fracturing, which has opened up huge reserves of natural gas.

Natural gas is cheaper than coal.

So the U.S. looks the other way as it happily jeopardizes the environment in two major ways; by using the terribly controversial "fracking" at home, and by sending its cheap and unwanted hard, black coal around the world to let everybody else contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The image for this drawing is a piece of "a vast lignite mine near Jaenschwalde, Germany" which "feeds high-emissions lignite, or brown coal, directly to a power plant."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Post square 020713 ~ The Snow in Sochi

One year from today the Winter Olympics are scheduled to open in Sochi, Russia. Good thing it's not happening now. The palm-fringed city, on the subtropical coast of the Black Sea, is warm and rainy.

This little piece, abstracted from the photo, is part of the mountain range in the distant landscape.

I like this one. The random colors came out in a fun combination.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Post square 020613 ~ The Spoils

According to Wikipedia, the phrase "to the victory go the spoils" was first said by New York Senator William L. Marcy, and referred to the victory of the Jackson Democrats in the election of 1828; the term spoils meaning goods or benefits taken from the loser in a competition, election or military victory.

The photo on the front page of the Post today, from which this small portion was taken, is of the retiring Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis, holding up the Super Bowl trophy. I think he must be on a parade float. There is a strange sort of flame-throwing device directly behind him, shooting columns of yellow flame straight up into the air. These two flaming columns caught my eye. They seemed to resemble human profiles facing each other.

I drew the piece up-side-down, though, because I didn't want the image to look too face-like. But when I turned it right-side-up it did anyway.

Drawn quickly and loosely at first, then using smaller and more careful pencil strokes to finish.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Post square 020513 ~ It's Not Working

The photo on the front page of the Post is of a group of Malian women and children walking past a wall. On the wall are paintings of flags of African countries that have joined France in an anti-Islamist military effort.

But the article is not about France's efforts, it's about those of the U.S., which have done little to prevent the Islamist extremists from establishing themselves in North and West Africa.

It all started when the U.S. failed to take advantage of an opportunity to capture the Algerian jihadist, Mokhtar Belmokhtar (the one-eyed bandit), in 2003. It's been downhill from there. One possible reason for this is the U.S. government's split over just how aggressive to be. The Defense Department being for military action and the State Department being, perhaps, according to some, too tolerant of al-Qaeda's presence.

I did this drawing quickly. It's small. I just found out I will be doing the American Craft Council show in two weeks. I've been creeping up the waiting list, and have been planning to do it, but now I really have to get serious. I want to keep doing these daily drawings, but they will have to be spontaneous and not time-consuming. It will be interesting to see how that effects them!

One thing that I did differently with this one was that I didn't draw it out in pencil first. I just went at it with color. Scratched into the surface with an X-acto blade.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Post square 020413 ~ Quoth the Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl yesterday. That's all I can tell ya.

Except that I know I like Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven. Here's the delicious penultimate verse:

'Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
'Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Must be kinda how the 49er fans feel, huh?

So, I know this looks more like a puffin. I was searching the front cover photo for the one inch square that looked anything like any bird. And this is what I got. I guess I could have made the beak black to make it more raven-like, but these are the colors in the photo and I liked them for the composition. I found the image in the blurry background above wide receiver Anquan Boldin as he "hauls in a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco in the first quarter to open the scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during Sunday's Super Bowl game, which ended too late for this edition." The Post then directs the reader to their website for "complete coverage of the contest." 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Post square 020313 ~ "It's a Zen thing."

"It's a Zen thing." Robert K. Farago's way of decribing the visceral pleasure he experiences when he fires a gun.

Zen \ 'zen \ n : a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation. (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) I just wanted to clarify what the word Zen refers to, a word that is misused almost as much as the word love.
The following points are those that I was most struck by as I read Joel Achenbach's article on the front page of today's Washington Post. The story is about a man who is "ready to protect himself and his right to bear arms".

Robert K. Farago is relatively new to guns, but the blog he started soon after he discovered his passion for them, got close to 7 million page views last month.

His mother, a major art benefactor, and donator of a huge collection to a Boston museum, doesn't like her son's new interest very much. 

His 9-year-old daughter, whom he has custody of, thinks that the teachers at the Quaker school she attends
should have guns. "So they can defend us," she says.

Robert K. Farago likes to wear his Glock 30SF, in a holster under his jacket, to Starbucks. He says it makes him feel "grown up".
After I read this article, I felt as though my stomach was full of rocks, which is how I react when I'm horrified. I chose the detail of the photo for my drawing, this time, based on the proximity of the business end of Mr. Farago's rifle. I wanted to be as far away from it as possible. So for my composition I used the blinds on the window from which he is staring...rifle held diagonally across his torso, protecting his daughter, his miniature schnauzers, his Persian rugs, his art collection and his Mercedes.

The drawing was done with charcoal and one off-white colored pencil. I did it quickly. Didn't feel much like hanging out with this subject too long.

Post square 020213 ~ Goodbye For Now

This drawing is an abstraction from a detail of a photograph of Hillary Rodham Clinton on her last day as secretary of state. She is pictured surrounded by staff members, most of them recording the event on their smart phones. The Washington Post has given the image the title "A photo finish". I'd like to think she's just getting started.

The composition is made up of some of the arms lifting phones and from folds and stripes of clothing, a button. I embellished the plain shapes with some patterns just for fun.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Post square 020113 ~ "It's Wise to Try to Talk to People..."

President Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to fill the position of the US defense secretary.

You would think the other Republicans would be happy about this, but they're not. They grilled Mr. Hagel, in an eight-hour confirmation hearing yesterday, about many of his past policy decisions, which weren't exactly the same as the general views of the majority of the GOP.

Rumor has it that Chuck can be pretty funny. He wasn't funny yesterday. In fact, he was not his charismatic self at all. But this, nor any of the answers he gave, even though they weren't the answers the questioners wanted, seems to have hurt his chances at being the future boss of the Pentagon. 

The detail of the Washington Post cover photo that I chose was that of Chuck Hagel's shoulder. I thought of all the weight that is going to be on it when he is defense secretary. The dark areas are taken from the folds in the upper sleeve of his suit. I was thinking, when I drew it, that it would look like a landscape. But then I randomly chose the pink and the brown to color in that area, so that now it makes me think of some kind of weird Easter dessert.