Monday, June 29, 2009

Cloudy day in Chicago!

Michigan Ave. and Van Buren looking towards Lake Michigan

I'm working on some paintings at the moment but in the meantime thought I'd show you some lovely photos of the Windy City.

Backyard shot!

It was extremely cloudy today. Full, mountainous clouds filled the sky from every nook and cranny. A cumulus invasion overtaking Chicago!

Another pic from the backyard!

There's such a grand sense of depth and freeness when the sky looks like this. Everything is so much more visually interesting....almost romantic. Wouldn't you agree?

Looking southwest of Chicago while waiting for my train

The following quote sums it all up rather nicely.....

"How sweet to be a cloud floating in the blue!"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nothing lasts forever.....

"Fuck you and your mother."

"This shit don't work."

"Don't fuck with me in this heat!"

That's pretty much what I've listened to this past week. The building next door is having its roof replaced and the construction workers' conversations are....let's just say it's good no children are present.

The neighbor's roof in its original glory

Hammers pounding. Saws cutting. Debris flying. Amidst the yelling and crashing around me I started to feel sad.

From my window I've seen our neighbor's roof every day.

The light gray shingles were familiar, unchanging....almost soothing to the eye. Ornate yet simple. Vintage and old-fashioned (much like the original owner who lived 'til her mid-90's and died about a year-and-a-half-ago).

Devastated and made bare

It reminds me that nothing remains constant. Seems like everything is changing around me but I'm not. Like I'm falling behind. Stuck. Failing.

I'll be losing my job next month. What if I can't adapt to that? What if I can't change with the changes? How long can I last?

Or am I over analyzing this way too much? We are talking about a roof getting remodeled for God's sake!

The new roof. How boring and modern!

Nail guns popping. Air compressors whirring. Boards banging.

Of all the "colorful" exchanges between the roofers, my absolute favorite was, "I don't wanna girlfriend. I fuck strippers!"

Classy. Real classy.

Loud, cocky, foul-mouthed construction workers....gotta love 'em. Reminds me of my father.

Some things never change....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My new baby!

I was in a rush to get to work. I stopped in my tracks and almost gasped upon first sight.

Peering through a cramped storefront window our eyes fatefully met. Full-figured, tall, gorgeous.....and oh-so green!

Silly! I'm talking about the one, the only........ZZ plant!!

Here's a picture of my newest "child" which I purchased earlier in the week.

Its full Latin name is Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or "ZZ plant" for short.

This has got to be one of the easiest houseplants to grow yet not the easiest to find. I was so shocked and thrilled when I saw this for sale at a downtown flower shop. For $35 this was an absolute steal!

Pest and disease resistant. Naturally shiny, dark green leaves. Can grow in extremely low light levels. Stores water in its rhizome so it doesn't need to be watered all that much. What's not to love?

It's close to three feet tall already and ridiculously full, almost packed, with a multitude of fat juicy stalks.

Close-up shot! Such shiny leaves you have!

And the best part?

Each leaf can be individually rooted! If I plucked off and propagated ALL of the leaves on this I could have hundreds and hundreds of baby ZZ plants! The thought fills me with wild laughter!

Woooahhahaaahahaahahahahahahahahaha!!!! I told you!

Every time I see my new baby it brings a smile to my face.

Now isn't it about time you got your own? Remember, houseplants are better than people. They won't hurt or abandon you and they purify the air! (^_^)

Welcome to the Grey family, my dear ZZ plant!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nude Male ACEO

Pen and ink on bristol paper - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" (SOLD)

I haven't made one of these in a while.

Normally you don't come across Nudes done as an ACEO. I was up for the challenge and here's what came of it.

Because of the art card's small dimensions I couldn't include the entire figure. But I think the cropped torso is visually more interesting this way. Don't you agree?

The main goal was to have a nice balance of light and darks to make the muscles and form 'pop'.

The striped border around the image adds a little extra touch.

Just a simple, subtle male nude done in an ACEO format!

Quick, fun, and painless!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I LOST my dead-end job!!!!

Getting called into the Assistant Commissioner's office is never a good sign. Having the Director of Human Resources sitting next to her is doubly bad.

"I think you know what we're going to tell you, Dean."

My eyes scanned the document placed in front of me. 'Budget cuts, termination, and layoffs' were the words I saw first.

As they took turns talking to me about the financial crisis the City is in, I put my hand to my face. In a sort of shock I blocked out most of what they said, thinking to myself, "Oh my God, I can't believe I'm going to lose my job!"

And that's what happened. Our dear Mayor Daley announced this past Friday that multiple city departments in Chicago would experience layoffs. Hundreds of terminations to be exact. And one of those hundreds was me!

Oh super fucking crap! No, let me emphasize that a bit better. ****OH SUPER FUCKING CRAP!!!****

Part of my "pink slip" which I decorated in shades of pink marker
with yellows and greens for contrast!

If you read my blog you'll note I often complain of my dead-end job. Yes, it most indeed sucks working there but it was a steady source of income (not much though).

Now I do NOT know what I'm going to do. Where will I get money from? I'm so scared I won't be able to find another job to replace this one. So many people are unemployed right now and there is soooo much competition.

The silver lining to this story is that our union is supposedly going to have a meeting with the Mayor's office in hopes of negotiating a deal. If both sides can agree on certain financial terms all the layoffs could be rescinded.

So I'm technically working until July 15th of next month. If no progress is made regarding talks between our union and the Mayor it's bye-bye dead-end job.

Needless to say, I could not sleep well that night. It was raining out and at two in the morning I sat in the backyard and cried as the rain danced on my skin. It was almost lovely.

I guess it's true what they say....."You don't know what you got 'til it's gone."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chicago's Millennium Park at Night!! (Part 2)

Another Wednesday. Another late night getting out of work.

It was time to revisit Millennium Park yesterday. My original post showed just a fraction of what this world class park has to offer. Now prepare to be amazed as you see the rest of Millennium Park at night! *oohs and ahhs from the crowd*

The very first photo is of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion where all the free, outdoor concerts are held. Much like the back of Crown Fountain, the pavilion changes a series of colors from blues, to purples, to oranges, to reds (see below).

Next up, on the way to Lurie Garden is the boardwalk with its wading pool. A narrow corridor with wooden planks where you can literally stick your feet in the water when it's too hot out.

The boardwalk and the canal

It's very dimly lit in this particular area. It's no surprise to me that there were several couples sitting here necking with their partner.

Crown Fountain with a smiling Chicagoan

In part one I showed you the back of  The Crown Fountain. Here is a frontal shot of one of the towers. You'll note an image of a Chicagoan appears on the huge screen. This random face will stare at you and occasionally smile. 

Crown Fountain with a spitting Chicagoan. Where are her manners?!

Then after about five minutes he/she will pucker their lips and "spit" out water down below! Gross and cool at the same time!

The Art Institute's Modern Wing

Here's a shot of the new Modern Wing at night. It's the newest addition from the Art Institute with a bridge that connects right into the heart of Millennium Park. I love that heavenly white glow!

Boom! Sizzle! Ka-pow!

A neat little thing during the summer is the fireworks show at Navy Pier which just happens to occur on Wednesday evenings! How lucky am I!! Up above is a blurry shot of the fireworks from the park looking towards Navy Pier.

And last but not least, down below is the BP bridge looking east towards the Loop. This metallic silver, s-shaped bridge winds like a snake over Columbus Drive, allowing you amazing views of the park and the skyline!

BP bridge with the city as its backdrop

The spicy-sweet smell of nearby flowering bushes lingered in the cool air and amazing architecture was everywhere. It was just terribly romantic. No wonder there were so many families and couples here.

It's always a bittersweet thing coming to places like this. I have no one to share it with but I'd rather see it by myself than not at all.

Seeing the skyscrapers from BP bridge was just awesome. The wind played with my hair and all the lights lit up my soul. Everything looked so vast and open. I took it all in and felt so free. So free!!

In that moment I never wanted to go home. I just wanted to run for it. To escape and never look back.

After over an hour standing on that bridge overlooking the vibrant cityscape, reality set in. I had to catch my train. Back to the mundane routine, the crummy job, the despondency, the unfulfilled life.

I'm glad I got to experience the freedom for a little while though. Until next time my dearest Chicago.....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Tequila Sunrise" (W.I.P. Hibiscus Painting - Step 3 - Completion!!)

Watercolor on watercolor paper - 8" x 10" (SOLD)

I'm done. I'm done! I'm fucking done!

Ugh! This painting took sooooo much longer to finish than I thought. If I'd been using a real hibiscus flower instead of a photo reference, the bloom would've been long dead by now!

I would start and stop, then start and stop some more. This floral painting got pushed to the back burner so many times, thoughts about tearing it up came to mind so I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.

It even got me to swearing. Fuckity-fuck and super shit! (See what I mean?!)


I like the way this turned out. In this stage the shadows on the foliage were deepened and the finishing touches on the petals were laid in.

Am I 100% satisfied with this painting? No....but I am pleased with it and maybe that's good enough.

Now I can finally move on to something else! Fuck yeah!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Strawberries sketch

They're one of the first plants in our garden to emerge. One of the definitive signs of Spring. Charming, cute, and oh-so petite. I'm talking about strawberries of course!

Here's a sketch I did earlier this morning of the strawberry plants in our backyard.

I love the shape of their leaves and the "runners" they send out which produce new plants. Our strawberries have mostly flowered and began bearing tiny, unripened fruit.

As I was sketching these on the grass, a spider raced across my sketchbook! Eeek! I tried shooing it away but the thing ran underneath into the other pages! When I flipped through the sketchbook the spider was gone....probably back onto the grass. Hopefully!

And just after that, an ant started crawling on one of the strawberry's leaves. Another bug that's always in a hurry (or are they just shy?). I quickly made him/her part of my sketch!

Strawberry plants from the garden

Our now deceased neighbor actually gave us these plants from her yard several years ago (that makes them even more special).

She gave us several of her "offspring" which we planted in front of the vegetable garden. Every year since, they spread and kept on spreading. They make awesome little borders (see photo above)!

Can you believe after all this praise about this plant that I don't even like eating strawberries!