Sunday, December 25, 2016

ROCKing Some Christmas Spirit on Illustration Frida.... I Mean Christmas Day!

     Yay! It’s Illustration Frida… Well not really. Happy Illustration Christmas!  I was meaning to get this finished and posted by this past Friday, but the universe said,”No!” and when the universe says,”No!” you just have to have your rage moment and move on. lol.

     To be honest, I wasn’t even planning on participating this week as it was the Holiday week (for those celebrating Christmas) and even if you had finished all of the Christmas Shopping, there’s still just stuff, stuff and more stuff to do and get done… It’s like a Clown Car full of Special Holiday Chores… Merry Christmas to me, right?!?!  This week’s topic is ROCK and that was my second reason for not wanting to participate.  I usually like to make the illustration themed to a Holiday if one is close to it and I couldn’t think of a way to combine Christmas and a rock…  I mean, who ever heard of a Christmas Rock, really?  

     I had thought about illustrating a child from somewhere on the planet, someplace rural that specifically celebrated Christmas, and write my own holiday version of the Rock Soup story.  However, writing a story is pretty involved, even if you are using a pre-existing story that has been around for ages as a base for a new interpretation… You still need a lot of time to re-interpret, create new elements to the story, theme/craft it to your specific location, time and set of characters, etc.   and I was already on a time crunch in general just from holiday-clown-car-things-to-do.

     So in my mind, I justified not doing something this week…. until I just decided to put in the words Christmas rock in a Google search… you know just for the hell of it. I had some eggnog and was wanting some amusement at the time.  I came across an image that not only makes me smile, it really inspired me to doodle/draw something for this week’s Illustration Friday challenge.  I just loved the Santa clause with a Mohawk! It is pretty Metal.  So I decided to just spend some of my little me time I had this week on drawing and doodling. I meditated on the idea of a Punk Rock Santa Clause and just doodled to see if anything came form the idea.  I ended up with a cute little character sketch after about an hour or two of playing around with different ideas.

     To give you a timeline, this was Thursday evening… Yeah, I really did wait till the last minute, kinda-sorta.  I really spent most of the week just thinking of an idea, but no idea really developed. (Don’t you just hate that?)  SO most of the week was wasted in wrestling between the “I should come up with something this week” and the “no, there's really no time for it this week” and the “well even if you wanted to do something, what the hell can you do with ‘ROCK’?”  

     SO long-story-that-shouldn’t-be-a-long-story-short… I drew something in the 11th hour now creating a sort of pressure to complete it before work Friday morning.  

Friday came, and with it the Four Horsemen…

     I had such a bad morning this past Friday, I felt like some slapstick character on some mediocre prime time sitcom.  It wasn’t bad enough that I was already recovering from being sick recently also. These were the events that followed:

Episode One: The Volcanic Vacuum
     Previously in this week, I had taken apart my bag-less vacuum cleaner to clean it.  All of the pieces are dishwasher washable (according to the manual’s cleaning instructions) so I washed a load just for the vacuum cleaner.  In the interim, I discovered another part that is near the top of the bag-less bag compartment area. I realized it too screwed off and could be cleaned.  I stopped the dishwasher so I could add the other part. I began to unscrew that part and then my life became a Warner Brothers cartoon for 10 minutes.  If you’ve ever seen, in a cartoon, how a bag of flour accidentally is broken open, then you will know how there seems to be more material that falls out of the bag, than appears that could fit into it in the first place. Then there is a hazy cloud of smoke that fills the entire room and passes over the camera until all you can see is white across the screen…. then you see two blinking eyes.  
Well my life very much resembled this Friday morning as there was an erupted flow of cat hair, liter, dust, dirt, threads, lint, bits of paper, and other various things that can end up mysteriously on a carpet.  It was a cloud mass of hazy duty garbage that descended form the top of that vacuum cleaner and all over the floor.  It was the irony of trying to clean the vacuum cleaner, I made an even bigger mess that I was not able to clean up, because the only thing that cleans dirt and dust off of the carpet is (you guessed it) the vacuum cleaner that couldn’t be operated as it was disassembled being cleaned.  But that’s fine… I can wait.  So when the dishwasher is done cleaning the parts, I reassemble the vacuum cleaner, getting ready to cleanup the inopportune mess that puked itself onto my floor. I place everything carefully back where it goes, I plug in the vacuum, it turns on… but there is NO SUCTION…  NONE!  The damn thing was broken form me trying to clean it. At this point I was only slightly annoyed and in truth (in case your a curious person, such as myself, the answer is yes. That pile of dirt is still on my floor.  I am currently in a warranty battle with the manufacturer as I have had the vacuum for less than a year.  Good Times, but this particular Friday morning wasn’t done with me yet.

Episode Two: The Cantankerous Computer
     So after the epic fail with my vacuum cleaner, I decided perhaps I should continue work on my Punk Rock Santa as it was (early) Friday morning and usually Illustration Friday changes their word for the week around noonish on Friday.  Since I ended up coming up with a drawing, inked it and scanned it in, it was time to finish it to color.  Working on Art is always great therapy for a frustrating situation. Doesn’t always pan out, as it depends on how frustrated I am and how willing my mind is to let something go, relax and focus on a new task (even if that task is comparably more fun than Holiday chores.)  So I turned on my (old) computer and waited for it to load… Well it only loaded to a certain point before freezing. I thought to myself that this was quite odd.  I shut it down and started it up again… again it froze.  Shut down, restart… frozen again, shut down, restart, freeze again… At this point I was beginning to become more frustrated.  After an hour of fighting with the computer, it shut down, but when I pressed the power button…. it decided not to come on at all.  This is when I began panicking.  All my mind could do was repeat the same phrase internally for what seemed like eons,”Oh My God. The Computer Just Died. Oh my God! THE COMPUTER JUST DIED!”   

My panic was exacerbated by the fact that I had intended to do a back up of what was a little over a years worth of new work that wasn’t backed up.  I was waiting for the Holiday break to have the time to do it.  I was really in a bad state.  I called a local computer company that does repair work and luckily they were open at that hour.  I took the computer down there.  When they opened up the computer, they discovered that the real power button had just come loose, which was an easy fix.  However, the computer was still not loading all the way properly and continued to freeze after several tries by them to load it.  They reviewed over the hardware and explained to me that the computer had had so much wear that it truly only had maybe a month’s worth of life left, if any, and it would be more practical or me to purchase a new computer instead of sinking money into what they were certain was, at this point, a money pit.  My heart sank at this news. Not necessarily that I would have to surprise invest into a new computer, but that it was possible that all the information on the computer was gone, if I hadn’t backed it up (which I hadn’t)  This was quite a blow, especially after dealing with the vacuum cleaner on the same morning.  
So not only was I not going to be able to finish my little festive Punk Rock Santa illustration, I may loose a lot a lot ALOT of personal work.  

This was a terrible start to my morning…. But wait.  The Universe was not finished throwing some curve balls at me that morning.

Episode Three: Lamenting a Leaning Ladder Shelf
      So I have these very nice little leaning ladder shelves in my studio apartment.  I like them because they are efficiently practical but also pretty (yes, I said pretty.)  I had 3 of them already, and had purchased 2 of them as a gift to my partner’s daughter this past year on her birthday to help organize her bedroom.  Anyway, they can only be purchased online and I found myself, quite recently, in need of another one at my place.  SO I ordered it weeks ago and it had arrived last week.  It was my plan to put it together over the holiday… Well after, the vacuum and computer and illustration fiasco, I had to calm down some and I gave myself a project to do.  I had decided I would just try to Keep Calm and Carry On with some nice coffee and putting the new shelf together while watching some holiday movies to cheer me up a bit.  Good strategy, huh? Well, I had put 5 of these shelves together before and pretty much knew the deal and how to go about assembling them.  The hardware that came with this particular shelf was, I believe, not manufactured properly. Some of the screws were striped and I was having a hard time getting the screwdriver to turn them. 

This in combination with improperly drilled holes in the wood led to… well you may have already guessed: The wood slip apart as I was trying to put together the 2 main support beams that the ladder steps shelves attach to…. I'm not proud of what happened next, but honestly, I'm not certain I could have stopped it…. I simply and plainly right at that moment as soon as my eyes sent the image of those broken beams to my brain, I LOST MY MIND!  I can’t really explain what physical transformation occurred at that moment (for maybe 10 seconds or 45 of them), but I believe that I transformed into a dinosaur; a real live dinosaur.  I’m certain my neighbors heard the strange roaring sounds that were emanating from my apartment.  Also I may have thrown some of the shelve pieces across the apartment.  One can never be too certain when you’re in your dinosaur form, truly.  

     So yes. Very frustrating things happened on the cusp of a very cheerful holiday.  I had thought about a previously illustrated piece that morning, Red Hot Rage, and how I was very much like it.  It’s not an image that I was proud of myself being reflected in. However, I will say that since those events, things have been much better.  My work day that day was fun.  I love my work family and we always have a good time there.  We were all kind of in fun crazy moods, partly because I think we all get a little “senioritis” right before  our holiday vacation.  We work hard and play hard and it’s always nice to be around them.  (TO my work crew: I hope you all are having a really nice and relaxing holiday. See you guys next year! Luv ya!)   Also that same evening, B and I went to do some Christmas shopping in a town nearby where we live.  He also took me to a movie to cheer me up.  We went to see PASSENGERS, and it certainly did the trick.  I had a very nice end to a day that started out quite rough.  On a quick aside, let me just say this about the film we saw… WOW! That movie was just absolutely a delightful surprise.  It was SO VERY VERY GOOD. A real treat that I recommend for everyone to go see in a theater.  Don’t wait on this one. See it soon, if you can.  Very well written story and characters.  It’s the Magnolia of this decade.

     The incidents of Friday have since cleared, leveled out and have been more or less resolved.  Saturday morning, I was able to eventually get that computer to load all the way and I was able to retrieve and backup all my art files and photos form the last year and a half (apparently the last time I backed the computer up… I know right?!?! Shame on me for not being more diligent.)  I was also able to finish this past week’s ROCK inspired Illustration Friday Challenge, my Punk Rock Santa.  The vacuum cleaner will be covered and replaced under the manufacturers warranty as I have owned it for less than a year, so that’s good.  I also have a new shelf on it’s way, being replaced for free also.  I just need to box the broken one back up and send it back to them.  So things have eventually worked out in a positive way, more or less and that makes me happy and more relaxed as I enjoy today (Christmas Day.)

     One of the things I thought about over the course of last Friday was to list (in my head) at least 10 things that I did enjoy about the Holiday Season.  It helped calm me back down and to re-transform back into my human form from my dinosaur form. And in conclusion, I wanted to share those 10 things with you all today:

10 Things I like most about Christmas:

1.)  Holiday Music.  
I very much enjoy listening to all my holiday albums on repeat all through the month of December. Every year.

2.) Cool Weather.  
Now, in Georgia, this literally shifts form minute to minute. We really do have all 4 Seasons in one day, but I enjoy it when it gets cool. I can wear my flannel, coats, scarves and hats. You can also sit in your yard with a nice fire.  I love the smell of a campfire. This leads me to the next thing I love about this time of year:

3.) The Smells of the Holiday.  
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy the scent of pine, peppermint and things baking and cooking in the kitchen.  I talk about the smell of home after you cook a meal and I truly do believe it is part of the experience of the Holidays.  It’s certainly on my list of favorite things.

4.)  Decorating Your Home.
No matter what holiday you celebrate in this season, there is always a sense of excitement and anticipation when you just know it is time to unpack those decorations and find places for them to live for a month or so.  There’s just a tremendous joy that it brings to me to participate in that particular activity.  Its very nostalgic. It’s also like finding buried treasure, because if you’re anything like me, each item you unpack from the box or been, whether it’s an ornament or a nut cracker or a strand of garland, there usually is a memory attached to each one.  It makes me smile when I put them up and also each day that I return home and see them this whole month.  Its a treat we all get to experience each year, if you appreciate it. The next favorite thing kinda-sorta ties into this as well.

5.) Retail and Business Holiday Decor.  
I always love shopping at this time of year because there is just an added warmth to every store when you see their holiday decorations.  The colors the smells the music.  Most places really go all out to create a genuinely warm and magical holiday shopping experience.  It’s about the only time of year that I don’t mind going into stores to shop for things.  i usually view this activity as just another obligatory chore you have to do.  But this time of year, I just love it.
This also extends to special items that are only sold around this time of year. I mean this more particularly for restaurants.  For example, I'm a huge fan when Starbucks starts carrying Sugar Free peppermint syrup.  I must admit, I am truly a sucker for that place and I love love love a peppermint latte (not mocha. just peppermint latte.)  It’s a real treat when I can enjoy one.

7.) Holiday Lights.
I love how the city and it’s residents put up lights all around.  It makes things festive.  I smile on the inside as I drive around and see everyone’s colorful and energetic light displays. 

8.) Holiday Movies.
I actually sometimes start my holiday movie watching in October.  I really just can’t wait to watch some of them.  I have them on constantly as I cook or if I’m cleaning. I also have them on to watch/listen to as I’m working on art around this time of year.  I’ll watch them over and over again sometimes and I admit, my more favorite ones, I’ll watch year round.

9.)  Shopping for Other People.
I can’t really explain the immense joy that I get from shopping for special surprise for the peeps in my life.  I kind of think of it like a little game.  I try to find the thing that they might find most interesting or cool or something they may have mentioned to me previously sometime that year.  Its fun for me to create my Christmas List.  I get a kick out of their reaction. I’m always curious to know what they will think of it or if it will surprise them or will it make them smile big.  That’s the fun of gift giving for me.  I do like unwrapping gifts also and I love and appreciate it when someone gets me something, but if I’m truly honest, the fun of it, for me, is shopping for others. Maybe that’s weird, but I have a great deal of fun doing it.  

10.) Quality Time with Family and Friends.
This is the thing I love most about the Holidays.  I love going over and sharing food, stories and playing games with the people I love most on this planet. Granted, we all tend to do this year round.  However, there is just something so special about it within this small little frame of time each year.  People just seem to appreciate it more, maybe. I’m not certain. Maybe it’s all of these things combined that create the magic of the Season.  Who knows?  But I can tell you, this last is what I love absolutely most about the Holiday.  

     …But these are just a few of my Favorite Things.  And in reminding myself about what I like most about this time of year really made the difference for me last Friday.  It revitalized and necessitated my Holiday Spirit.  I would challenge you all to make your own list. It’s a fun excursive and makes you truly appreciate the Holidays more.  

     I leave you all with one of my favorite Holiday tunes that got a lot of play this year.  For those who are celebrating today, Merry Christmas! For those who are celebrating other Holidays, Happy Holidays. And for those feeling miserly today, Bah Humbug! lol.  JK  ;0)
I hope you all enjoy the illustration of Punk Rock Santa, and find a little Rock and Roll in all your Holidays. 

Until next time, friends,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, 
keep making art.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Let the Joy of the Holiday Season STICK with you on Illustration Friday!

     Yay! It's Friday, Illustration Friday, and I'm kinda sorta on fire about the Holiday Season.  I've started to hear Christmas music everywhere, The entire city here is decorated for the Holiday Season, you can smell peppermint and all spice everywhere, and, I don't know about you, but I have already begun the Christmas Movie marathon on my TV at home.  The home is filled with the joyous laughter of it.  I just LOVE it! lol.

     This week's topic is TAPE.  I originally was going to skip participation this Illustration Friday as I had put so much in the previous week's Thanksgiving Day post and illustration. I honestly was a bit tired after all the Holiday, illustrating, writing, cooking and traveling.  Don't get me wrong, I love that Holiday and I thoroughly enjoyed it... I enjoyed it into thorough exhaustion also. ;0)   I also couldn't think of a way to illustrate a kid or write a story pertaining to "Tape."  However, after a bit of thought, this little guy came dancing into my head and I couldn't stop thinking about how adorable he was...

     So, I just had to draw him. Now, there are just certain traditions or activities that one does around the the Holiday Season that really just seems to encapsulate magic... actual magic.  It really just brings me joy and I can't stop smiling.  I would have to say that drawing this little Tape Elf fit into that category for me.  I thought he'd be fun to draw, as one of the activities I absolutely love to do this time of year is to wrap presents and Christmas Tape, obviously, is a large part of that activity.  I usually put on some Christmas Music or put on a Holiday movie, etc., and just relax into wrapping.  It's almost zen like, really.

     When I first began drawing my Tape Elf, I doodled several thumbnail possibilities of what he could be doing. In the end though, I settled on having him holding some presents, as gifts are generally what Christmas Tape is associated with.

     I have lately been conducting a personal experiment of sorts with myself.  As most artists our in the world, we all have full time jobs we go to during the week and then after work we come home and draw. You stay up late late late and draw.  This has been my life since college.  Well after so many years of staying up late... you just kinda get tired of staying up late and then relying on your morning coffee to bail you out the next day. All hail to the gods of morning coffee. lol   Anyway, I have found that on the weekend, when I'm working on Artwork in the morning time, I tend to be more productive. So, I thought I would try a little experiment.  I have started going to bed Super Early, for me anyway, and then hopping out of bed at around 5am to start the day.  Crazy right? Well for those of you all that know me well, you know that I had previously NOT been a Morning Person. I deplored mornings and spat upon the idea of them. lol.  Well, I must confess, after 2 weeks on this experiment (including weekends) I have found that I rather enjoy getting up early, working on art, heading to the gym, eating breakfast and then off to work.  I really really enjoy this format.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I, Lewis W. Porter have discovered mornings, glorious mornings. lol  I have a feeling it may stick just like my vegetarian diet experiment I conducted 10 years ago.

     I relate all this, 1.) because it is very new and so previously out of character, but also 2.) most of this particular illustration was created in the wee hours before the morning's light.  I felt very energized and ready to draw each morning this week as I awoke to work on him.  It was a lot of fun and a real simple joy.

     I did some very quick research on Scotch tape (as that is the kind of tape I usually get for Christmas Wrapping) but also because I just have this grand fondness for the plaid pattern that Scotch uses on their packaging.  I had wanted to dress my little Tape Guy as Santa, but (as I said earlier) I have begun binge watching my favorite holiday movies, beginning with Elf (starring Will Ferrell.)  I just absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie and in the back of my head, I heard my little Scotch Tape Guy shouting "I Love You! I Love You! I Love You!" just like Buddy the Elf.  I can actually hear him squeal with joy when the name "Santa" is uttered by anyone. lol  (If you've seen the movie, then you'll know what I'm talking about.)

     So the decision was made pretty quickly to make him an Elf and not a Santa.

     My favorite part about working on this illustration was creating the plaid pattern from scratch. I did have many scanned in swatches of plaid patterned material, but I felt that it would just make the illustration too flat. So I decided to construct my own by hand.  Each little marking in that pattern I drew individually by hand; one mark at a time.  It was important to do it this way and it was fun to draw it as I don't think I've ever drawn a plaid pattern by hand before, and I have to say I think it turned out well and much better than just placing a fabric swatch.  One of my favorite phrases is,"God is in the details."  I have always loved that phrase, because it truly encapsulates what makes the "interest" in any work of art interesting... It's the details. Maybe you don't always notice them, but I can guarantee you would notice their absence.  Anyway, my point is that I knew one of those key details for this piece would be that plaid pattern Scotch is so well known for.

     I would say my second favorite part about working on this illustration was all the doodle snowflakes.  Those were fun to doodle also.  I purposely didn't sketch them out first.  I wanted their appearance and placement to be organic and I drew them on the spot as I inked the sketch.

     I hope that you all are inspired to feel the Joy of the Holidays when you look at this Little Tape Elf.  He certainly puts a smile on my face every time I see him.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend and find some Holiday Joy of your own.  I, personally, will be setting up my Christmas Tree and decorating for the Holiday Season.  I'm very excited and look forward to it every year. Happy Holidays, Everyone.

Until next time, friends,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, 
keep making art.