Monday, October 29, 2018

Learning colored pencil technique

I used my Crayola coloring pencils to draw geometric shapes with shading, just to learn the ins and outs of colored pencils as a drawing medium. I enjoyed the feel of the pencil as it skidded lightly over the rough paper and bit into it more deeply as I increased the pressure to make a color darker. I looked at the page by chance about two weeks later. It was about halfway done, with just the two left columns and the top square in the third from left column done. I don’t remember why I stopped there, probably to eat or sleep. But I felt a need to fill the rest of the page with more squares and circles.

So I made a bunch more squares, one at a time, but of course since two weeks had gone by my aesthetic had evolved away from what I’d created previously. I consciously forced myself to put in some more 3D circles, in the rightmost column. I realized when it was done I’d made a picture, not just a practicing of technique. What strikes me about it right now is how easy it is to make just pure shapes and color combinations, with no attempt to include any kind of content. Too easy, my conscience says, a picture must be about something! Even abstract surrealism is about Some Thing. This work, which I call “Let me count the ways,” - all the ways I can draw circles and squares, that is – was fun to do. But I’m not ready to completely give up objectivism yet.

Non-objectivism (Pollock, de Koonig, Newman,,) had its heyday in the ‘60s and ‘70s, mostly on the East Coast, but one notices that there isn’t much of it around anymore. I suspect it is really a dead end. I don’t feel very surrealistic anymore but I’m not going to do photorealism either. So about the only path left is abstraction, but I’m finding that difficult. Can’t seem to distinguish it from cartooning. Check back with me in a couple weeks and I’ll let you know where I am artistically. In the meantime, back to designing coloring pages.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Stephanie Plum, a woman after my own heart

How many of you who, like me, are fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum murder mystery/comedy novels, are also women? Probably a majority, I bet. Stephanie is a Bond Enforcement Agent, or, as most would say, bounty hunter. This is a job that calls for quick reflexes, killer instinct, and skill with firearms. Unfortunately, Stephanie has none of these. But as her boyfriend Joe Morelli often tells her, “It’s better to be lucky than smart.”

I’m kind of like Stephanie that way. Like when I was a Web designer, when bosses would ask me to create something I didn’t know how to code, I’d just gulp and say “Sure.” Then I’d desperately Google tutorials and cobble together something that worked, sort of. There was always somebody out there on an obscure Website offering a clever piece of code that did the trick.

Similarly, Stephanie stumbles through dangerous assignments that often almost get her killed. Her sidekick Lula, who considers the greatest things in life fried chicken, Spandex, and the importance of correctly accessorizing, is occasionally helpful. But the great thing about Lula is that she’s never needy. In fact, her soaring self-esteem could be a model for any of us to follow. And when she is helpful, she’s spectacular. In my current read, “Takedown Twenty,” Lula rescues Stephanie and her grandma from rapidly-hardening cement by calling the police, the fire department, and both of Stephanie’s badass studmuffins, Morelli and Ranger.

Hardcore feminists would say that Stephanie needs intensive mentoring in being strong, independent, and take-charge, preferably with attitude. Softcore, i.e., realistic, feminists like me acknowledge we need men, or more accurately, one or two good ones. Not to validate us, to fix the dryer vent or chase away bad guys trying to kill us. Also, we should all be so lucky as to have problems like Stephanie’s with her love life: whether to settle down with comfortable, reliable Morelli or yield to lust and go with noncommital but smokin’ hot Ranger.

Like most of us, Stephanie Plum is doing the best she can with what she’s got. Despite her shortcomings, she usually figures out who the killer is and manages, even if accidentally, to bring him or her to justice. This gives me hope; if she can do that, maybe I can continue indefinitely tapdancing on the edge of the abyss.

I often fantasize about what a great movie the latest Evanovich movie would make. There was one released in 2012, “One for the Money,” starring Katherine Heigl. (Trailer at I’d love to see "Takedown Twenty" as a film, but time marches on, especially for movie actors. If it were filmed in 2019, I’d cast Oscar Isaac as Ranger. I surmise he could invest the work “Babe” with as much promise as the novels’ character does. For Stephanie, I’d go with Margot Robie of “Suicide Squad.” For Morelli? Anyone but Ryan Reynolds. I don’t mean to diss him, but his eyelashes are just too long for that role. And there’s only one who could do justice to Lula: Leslie Jones.

So, Janet Evanovich, how about it? Are you/are you about to be in talks with a Hollywood producer? If you’d like to answer me directly, my Facebook page is (I’ve tried to find pages for jenny.mcdermott.38, .37, with no success.) Or if you like adult coloring, drop in to my fan page at Ciao.

What is art, and what do you care anyway?

YES, damnit, it IS SO art!

The other night I struggled with a moral dilemma. An ad for came through my Facebook feed - this is a company that ...