my peeps

January 29, 2008

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It’s funny, every time I sit down at a cafe to covertly sketch fellow coffee swillers, I inadvertently record a lasting memory. As I later thumb through my sketchbook, perusing the faces I’ve jotted down, I recall every conversation overheard, and every impression I’ve had of a particular person.

Yes, yes, that person sitting alone, at the table next to yours, is in fact listening to your conversation. Take note whether or not that person has a sketch book in hand. You just may end up on their sketch blog.

Ok, where was I? Oh yes, lasting impressions. So the blonde woman on the phone, I remember her being extremely boisterous and blustery. If memory serves, she was dropping celebrity names very loudly to the unfortunate soul on the other end of the conversation (as well as everyone in the cafe.) Ben Affleck is apparently a good friend of hers.

The smirking, young woman in the cap, is a barista. She makes a damn fine cup of coffee. She makes that coffee exactly the way I like it, and she does so while bestowing upon me the gift of her acerbic wit. A small price to pay for a perfect cup, I suppose.

Dude up there, seemed like a nice enough guy, although I’m pretty sure he thought I was hot for him. He caught me checking him out, and gave me a couple of knowing looks and a wink or two (shudder.) I have to be more careful about the length of time I study my subjects at any given moment.

stand out

November 28, 2007

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I spend my days as a graphic designer, working at, what they call, a boutique advertising agency. Today we excercised our yearly, wait-till-the-last-minute-to-figure-out-the-theme- of-our-holiday-card mind melt. It was beginning to look like, in the interest of time, the old cheap, stock photography route was going to be taken. That is, until one of the other designers and myself finally snapped out of our Thanksgiving-induced tryptophan coma, and shouted, “Wait!” If we are supposed to be assisting clients with catchy advertising campaigns and original, clever collateral, we should at least take a stab at a semi-interesting, original holiday card. Otherwise, just go to Hallmark. Don’t you think.

We all agreed and commenced brain-storming.

The thing is, when you distill it all down, there are really very few icons that truely symbolize the politically correct, watered down, homogenized “holiday” theme advertising firms crave. That is, there are few that have any whimsey or design potential. However, the one thing every holiday of this season has in common is snow. That leaves us with snowflakes, snowy landscape scenes (yawn), snowmen, and…penguins.

Penguins a little too cutesy, you say? A bit overdone lately? Well, I submit, who is more elegant in a winter wonderland, complete with their very own, non-rented, formal wear, than the penguin? And, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty certain, penguins do not subscribe to any sect or creed that might render them offensive as a holiday icon. It almost has to be penguins.

So, being that our new company website, also launching soon, bears the tageline “Stand Out” I spent some time trying to tie that idea in with…well…penguins.

I don’t think I came up with anything viable for our card yet, but in the process of sketching out roughs, I did come up with something to post tonight. Woot!

voyeur

November 15, 2007

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Maybe it’s because I’ve been drinking green tea this week, instead of the copious amount of coffee I usually swill down. Or maybe it’s the inspiring post I read on Draw Anyway yesterday. Whatever the reason, on my usual lunchtime Starbuckery, I decided to get in touch with my inner voyeur and sketch a few of the folks sitting around me. The ususpecting denizens of Starbucks are always good for an inexpensive, noncommital head drawing experiment.

You do have to be a bit cagey however. People tend to get a little uncomfortable when you stare at them for any period of time. So I catch glimpses, trying to get an overall feeling of their face. I do a quick drawing, then glance at them again a couple more times. If they are engrossed in a book, a conversation or their laptop it’s pretty easy. But honestly, I end up using my memory of their likeness, mixed with a little creative license most of the time.

I’m never really sure what I’ll end up with. Some folks lend themselves to caricatures, some require a little more serious consideration, and some are hardly more than a quick scribble, depending on how “on to me” they are. Mainly what I end up with is a sort of hybrid of caricature and portrait. I’m having too much fun trying to catch a feeling than worry about the proper perspective or alignment of features. Mr. Cooper, my head drawing instructor from years ago, would be appalled. But a good time is had by….well, me, and no one is the wiser. Except for anyone who looks at these sketches.

Could one of these sketches be someone you know?

my tooth needs a crown

October 30, 2007

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If you’d like to know anything about procrastination, just ask me. However, if talking about teeth and dentists and spending ridiculous amounts of money makes you queasy, perhaps you should go here.

I’ve had a throbbing toothache for days, yet I haven’t gotten around to calling the dentist. The reason for the toothache might likely be, I’ve neglected to get my crown finished, after the root canal I had months ago. Yep, I’m dealing with a three month old temporary crown right now, and I’m an idiot, or maybe not, it’s hard to say.

I mean, can you blame me? I dumped a truck full of cash at three different dentist offices these past 6 months. First, I got shaken down for $1200 to get my teeth “deep cleaned”. A month later, another 5 big ones for a crown prep to be followed up by another $500 when I get the crown “delivered.”

Feeling the need to recoup, I ingnored my dentist’s instructions to come in and finish the crown in no more than two week’s time. The temporary crown was doing fine, why rock the boat? Why spend the money?

Believe it or not, I feel this was one time procrastination paid off. I was about two months late for my crown delivery, and I was feeling like someone took a sledgehammer to the side of my head. Every sip of coffee or spoonful of ice cream brought me to my knees.

Turns out I needed a root canal.

There you go. Had I been a good girl and gotten my crown after only two weeks, as I was directed, Ole Tooth Boy would have had to rip my new crown off to administer said root canal. It would have meant extra pain, extra agony, plus an extra $1000. Not to mention the extra visits to the dentist. Don’t get me wrong, my team of dentists and their office folk are lovely people. It’s not that I hate dentists, but I seem to feel better when they’re not around, (if I may bastardize a quote by Henry, from Bukowski’s “Barfly”.)

So, after enduring the torture of my very first root canal, I again, and with conviction this time, ignored the directive to finish up my crown….soon.

Three months of procrastination later, here I am, throbbing. Did I call the dentist today. No I did not. I guess I need to bite the bullet (but not to hard, it might hurt) and pay the nice man and get my mouth fixed.

There are probably no more excuses.

scaredy cat

October 29, 2007

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Forgot my sketch pad and my pencil today. I had to resort to lined notebook paper and ball point pen. Because of this, I had resigned myself to simply jotting some thoughts down. Instead, my rotund feline companion, Joey managed to make his way through the ink well and onto my pad. He has a way of insinuating himself into many aspects of my day.

Joseph is an ornery little guy. He fancies himself the alpha cat in our tri-kittied household. The other two humor him. He is bigger than them afterall. He could crush the life out of a kitty, by simply dozing off while on top of one.

Well, as ferocious as he thinks he is, I am fairly certain that this image illustrates accurately what would ensue if Joey were to ever meet up with an intruder.

but…

October 28, 2007

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It rained Saturday morning, so what could be better than sloshing over to one of the ten neighborhood Starbucks for a cup? Tom and I did just that. Tom became quickly engrossed in the front page of the L.A. Times while I pretended to read the business section, my mind wondering off to some distant land.

After about fifteen minutes of sipping joe and daydreaming, I raised my glazed, uncomprehending eyes upwards a tad. There she was, in all her glory, a statuesque woman in her forties. Arguably, an attractive woman, she was tall with long, blonde, over-processed hair. You could just about make out a pretty face underneath the two and a half inches of Cover Girl foundation, too orange for her skin tone. Amazing, I can’t focus on the damn newspaper, but I can take in every detail of some strange woman in two seconds flat! Anyway, I’m sitting there, taking in her Payless, three-inch-heel, platform sandals, noticing her nicely toned calves, (making a mental note to get back to the gym,) when I saw them.

Her butt cheeks.

Her provocative, yet slightly saggy and dimpled butt cheeks! They were peeking out from her black, too tight, micro mini dress. Did I say peeking out? They were hanging out! Big as life they were!

I’m not even remotely a prude, but I have to tell you, I was feeling a wee bit uncomfortable. For one thing, it was obvious she knew I had noticed her and her exposed derriere, and at that point seemed to preen. She began a sort of prance in place, pretending to be self-conscious and pulling down her dress and giggling. To no avail. Those puppies were not going quietly. I believe her antics may have been for Tom’s sake. His back was to her and she wanted to make sure he saw her. He was the only man in the place, other than the young kid behind the counter, who was already turning a little pale. I obliged by giving Tom a nudge. So, as she sashayed out the door, he took a good look, after which we just looked at each other and blinked a few times in disbelief, fighting back the immature snickering that was dying to come out.

You know, all I can say is, we’re not in Portland anymore. God bless California!

And I hope she didn’t catch cold in the rain, poor thing.

a good life

October 28, 2007

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On the days I am wise enough to count my blessings, among the many I count are my moments spent drawing and drinking coffee. Of course, I have to count my health, a wonderful husband, three rambunctious yet lovable kitties, a family who loves me, some very close and precious friends, my home is intact and I have a good job, (just to name a few).

However, the thing I am thinking about at this moment, is the simple pleasure of sitting, sipping a damn fine cup of coffee and belting out a sketch or two. If I could, I’d spend my whole day doing just that. Drawing and sipping coffee. Maybe some day. You never know, eh?
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Daryl and Muffy, Rufus and Delilah, Stan and Roz? You decide.
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grampa goes a-courtin’

October 25, 2007

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I believe my many, recent, covert, coffee shop, sketching sessions, might have tweaked my brain. Every day I find myself enthralled with some facial curve or crevice as well as some epidermal peak or valley. This voyeuristic exercise has caused me to notice happy, sad, bored, grumpy, stressful, manic and annoyed expressions on faces of all ages, shapes and sizes.

As I leaf through the dog-eared pages of my sketch book, and view these rough little drawings, (sometimes weeks later), I find myself recalling each person and my impression of their personality. These impressions may be based on a snippet of conversation, caught in the ethers or sometimes, just pure speculation and imagination. But I remember them, all the same.

I guess you can call what I’ve been doing “active people watching”.

So, anyway, I’m afraid all of this has had a bit of an odd effect on me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but lately I find myself “channeling” strange characters. Channeling them onto my sketch pad. Last week, it was the screaming lady and her spider. They both just hopped onto my page without any warning, and today, at lunch, grampa made his presence known.

It’s pretty cool, actually. I hope they keep coming. All are welcome.

Other than that, all I can say is, good luck grampa, you’re gonna need it.

I wan’t my llama

October 21, 2007

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Some words I never thought I’d hear: “This is where I purchased my llama. You should call them when you are ready to buy.”

We were in Silverton, Oregon today, at the suggestion of our friends Tim and Paul. They thought we might consider it a possible place to move to when the time is right. When we got there, we found Silverton to be, not only reasonably close to the urban and cool downtown Portland, but also unbelievably quaint, artsy and friendly. The best of both worlds. It is nestled in a fairly rural part of Oregon, and is complete with rolling hills, groves and groves of pine trees, sheep, goats, horses, cows, and llamas. Yes, you heard me, llamas.

Why are llamas part of the Oregon landscape, you ask? Well, the story we heard, from a lovely woman we met in a small art gallery in town, is that llamas are the next best thing to a guard dog for protecting your livestock from coyotes. She told us this story after we half jokingly mentioned it was our dream to move to Oregon and raise llamas.

Apparently one of her and her husband’s goats (goats? who are these people?) one of their goats was attacked by a dog or coyote. (Not to worry, the goat survived and is resting comfortably). They hated the idea of getting a mean old guard dog but figured they had to do something to protect their animals. After some reasearch they found that llamas, although not aggressive animals, are quite intimidating to the likes of coyotes. The llamas become quite attached to their goat friends and if a coyote decides to make trouble, the llamas just run it right off their property, tail between it’s legs.

Hearing about the darker side of the gentle llama left Tom and I fascinated and amused. I might also mention that the woman telling the story was an attractive older woman, somewhere in her late 50’s or early 60’s, yet she had a youthful, almost beatific glow to her. We figured it to be euphoria caused by living in such glorious surroundings, not the least of which being trees, art galleries and llamas.

After our conversation, Tom and I continued browsing around the gallery, taking in some of the local artwork. When we finally got to the counter to purchase some trinkets, the glowy llama owner handed me a piece of paper with the number of her llama dealer.

“When your ready.” She winked at me with knowing look.

halloweiner dog

October 17, 2007

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Sick of the ubiquitous Halloween theme yet? Not me, I’m loving every minute of it. Just can’t get enough pumpkins, witches and candy corn.

However, everyone has their limits. For instance, I certainly don’t envy the employees of Rite Aid or those Halloween specialty stores. You know, the stores that sell witch figurines with flashing red eyes and the irritating cackle. They sell candy dishes with the skeleton hand that grabs at you as you reach for peanut M&M’s or Snickers, chortling maniacally.

I can imagine, every day, these employees going just a little bit more mad. As the gazillionth customer, that day, pushes the button unleashing just one more witch cackle, one more baleful ghostly moan or one more banshee scream, they snap! Now there’s a scary thought.

So, take heed, all ye who enter Rite Aid. Step lightly and resist the temptation to push yonder button, lest you unleash hell upon thee.

Ahem, so anyway, I thought I was super clever coming up with Halloweiner Dog. That is, until I insisted on googling it, to make sure I was, in fact, being original. Turns out, the whole freaking World Wide Web is lousy with Halloweiner Dogs. In fact there’s even a children’s book called Halloweiner. Who knew?

scared

October 16, 2007

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With a slight chill in the air and the Great Pumpkin scheduled to arrive soon, our minds turn towards all things frightful. Well, mine does anyway. Which is why I was wracking my brain at lunch today, for a Halloween themed cartoon gag. A great many half ideas came to mind, but nothing fully jelled.

So, I doodled around, sipping on my triple brevé cap, searching for ideas. Then, at some point, this extremely frightened figure emerged on the page of my sketch pad. Hmmmm, wonder where that came from? The deep recesses of my neurotic psyche, no doubt.

I showed the drawing to Tom and told him I was thinking about leaving it up to whomever saw it to decide for themselves what this poor, wretched creature was horrified by. I figured, although it might be a little bit of the lazy way out, it might also be a fun little exercise. Tom, not seeming to care for that idea much, simply said “Just put a teeny little spider in front of her face.”

Bingo! Cool idea. It may not be the hysterical gag I was looking for, but it is one commentary on terror, as it comes in many forms. Perhaps the irrational, neurotic kind, among the worst because of it’s persistent and pervasive nature.

So there you go. An aracniphobe. But why stop there? I still invite you to insert your fear here. What would cause you to make an ungodly face like that? Hmmmmmmm? Bwwaaaaa haaaaa haaaaaaa haaaa!

fairy tale

October 14, 2007

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For Halloween, T and A are the new macabre. At least they were a few years ago when my friends Alexis, Megan and I decided to attend a Halloween party we were invited to.

Alexis dressed up as a succubus, (you know, a demon who takes the form of a beautiful human female to seduce men, and then steals their souls.) Very much in the Halloween spirit. She painted her entire body and face in bright red makeup and sported horns, fangs and a sexy black dress. She looked fabulous and very scary. Her boyfriend at the time wore a long black wig and t-shirt with the words “I’m with Satan” on the front.

Clever t-shirt aside, he looked ridiculous in that wig.
“Are you supposed to be Ozzie Ozbourne or Joey Ramone?” Megan asked him.
“Yes” he replied smugly.

Megan came up with a dead fairy costume. She put together the usual fairy faire, and to that, added some white ghoul makeup, for that death pallor we were aiming for. It took us hours to figure out how to attach to her body Read the rest of this entry »

crow cam

October 5, 2007

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Barreling down the 101 this morning, hopped up on triple brevé cappuccino from Palermo’s, I heard an interesting story on NPR. I had to calm my over-caffeinated self down a bit so I could pay better attention. What I heard was that a group of scientists noticed a crow, (named Betty by the way), take a straight piece of wire, bend it into a hook, and use it to get food out of a tube.

Pretty amazing!

But they figured, well, Betty here, she’s a captive crow. They wondered if wild crows ever made and used tools.

So they trapped a few wild crows on some tropical island and attached video cameras to their little crow butts. Yeah, you heard me, a camera, to their butts! A crow cam if you will.

The footage they gathered was a little amateurish, being wild birds and all. You’d see a flash of wing here a black crow leg there, and a lot of cawing. Pretty fascinating stuff. You can read the whole story here. But what they found out was, that crows will use twigs and blades of grass to aid them in looking for food. If they think a particular twig is pretty useful, they might even hold on to it. Smarty pants birds!

Another score for the animal kingdom! Humans think their so big because they discovered fire and invented the wheel…oh yeah, and iPods!

celebrity vs. the mudane

October 3, 2007

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Tom and I enjoy listening to NPR on our morning commute. This morning, I was a little surprised to hear news of Britney Spears losing custody of her children mentioned on this fairly lofty news forum. But there it was.

Hearing this news made me wonder. Although it’s doubtful I’ll ever need to make this decision, I’ve often wondered if Read the rest of this entry »

photography is not a crime

September 30, 2007

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Friday was my beautiful, charming niece Chelsea’s 18th birthday, and a pretty good cross section of our extended family celebrated it Saturday night at a popular Los Angeles tourist attraction. Tom and I had a blast breaking bread, swilling down chianti and reconnecting with folks we hadn’t seen in a while.

When my family gets together, we resemble a small mob. We laugh loudly, talk a mile a minute, hug, dance around and bump into passersby, waving our hands wildly in an effort to accentuate our rampant story telling. It’s quite a scene, and I try never to miss any of these wonderful gatherings.

Tom, having a photojournalistic background is never without his trusty Canon 5D. A cool camera, very professional and impressive looking. (Takes good photos too.) Tom has been recording family events throughout the seven years we’ve been together. He does a top-notch job at capturing precious moments, humorous, poignant and everything in between. He’ll disappear from time to time, and when he does I know what he’s up to. He’s on photo safari. He’s wandering around, shooting colors, moods, taking advantage of interesting light. He’s shooting faces of folks walking around, known and unknown to us, and freezing moments for all eternity.

It was while he was doing this that some of us in the group noticed no less than 7 security guards approach the area we were inhabiting. What on earth could be going on Read the rest of this entry »