Sunday, April 29, 2012

Illustrators on the Loose

I came back from Bethesda with a really nasty cold, all this world traveling and public restroom use finally caught up with me. Here's some drawings the other artists I traveled to Bethesda with sketched of me.

Drawing by Ray Alma.

Drawing by Ray Alma.

Drawing by Fred Harper.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Boys on the Fourth Floor, Part Two

The first soldier we met was a captain who had been hit by a twelve year old suicide bomber in Afghanistan. He was adamant about not using his name but let us hang out while he finished his breakfast and chatted with a friend. He was really interesting to listen to and had a lot to say about the politics of fighting, why we're engaged in a war in Afghanistan. He told us a really good story about being corralled onto a bus and taken to a far flung steakhouse near D.C. with many of the other veterans in a bus emblazoned with the phrase WOUNDED VETERANS. Since his injuries are primarily on his back and buttocks, a two hour bus ride was grueling. He had a really beautiful cane that was hand carved by a volunteer organization, the head of it was a painted bald eagle and the body shaft was covered in symbols representing his unit and friends he has lost in the war.

Carnes was very bright eyed and upbeat and smiled an awful lot. He told us about all the celebrities that have visited him in the ward (Minka Kelly is beautiful, Kevin Bacon is sort of strange, and John Meyer is an o.k. guy). He was 19 when he was hit by an AK bullet that left him with a spiral fracture down his left femur and an exit wound in his right hip that damaged his sciatic nerve. He's had several surgeries and can walk, but has a 'foot drop', which impairs dorsiflexion. He was invited to throw the first ball at the Washington Nationals game this week, but declined to due to concern that he would inadvertently pull his staples. I can't express what an upbeat, friendly, and engaging guy he is.


The last soldier we met that day was First Lieutenant Michael Rhoads, who was very recently hit on April 15th by a bullet while lying prone on patrol. The bullet entered near his top left shoulder and missed his heart, but collapsed his left lung. He received emergency care and was in Germany around four days before being flown to Walter Reed. He was doing remarkably considering he had been in Afghanistan less than two weeks before. He is working to regain full capacity in his left lung and says he sometimes talks like an excited kid, taking deep breaths in between sentences, though when he spoke with us you wouldn't have guessed there was anything laborious about his breathing. He had a really cool apparatus that he used for breathing exercises; I think Ray Alma got a good photo of it that I would like to paint from. The deployment of his unit ends in September and he would like to go back after taking a break back home in Portland, but he is not sure it is realistic. He was very quiet and very tall and seemed exhausted.
All of the men we met were very gracious with their time, though I felt like a bit of a nuisance because these soldiers get an unfathomable amount of visitors each day and are in the process of recovering from really brutal injuries. I hope that this project will honor them and not treat them like a sideshow of curiosities, as often is the case. They are all incredible people that deserve dignity and respect and peace.  I can't wait to go back and visit again and hope that I will remain in touch with the people I have met there.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cow Party

Young cow investigates Blaine more closely.

I got a kiss from one of the young cows! I love her pink mouth.

More kisses.

1400 lb animals eating feed. I was intimidated.

Around 200 cows in this airline hangar of a barn.

A well fed cow with an educational fistula for internal investigation.

Milk tank.

One of the greenhouses.

Red chard.

Goat saying hello.

Sheep to be sheared.
A very young sheep.

Hydroponic tomatoes.

Really pretty colors...

Cobleskill Sketches

J.T. Yost is putting out a food and eating themed anthology that he's very kindly asked me to contribute a comic to. I've been contacting people involved in urban agriculture to interview for my ten page piece (hence the chicken photos in the last blog entry). I met Blaine about a month or so ago at a square dance, he and his girlfriend are old friends of Clif's. Blaine somehow became enamored with dairy and cows and enrolled in the dairy science program at SUNY Cobleskill and is working hard to graduate next year. When we both got to talking about our respective interests in milk and comics, I asked him if I could go see the farm he works on.

Friday night I took the bus to Albany and was retrieved and ferried to Cobleskill in Blaine's silver Chevy Impala, about an hour west of Albany. It was really late. Despite both of us being very tired we went to a dive bar, The American ('Can' to locals) that was pretty lively for 1:30 am. We didn't stay very long but I had time to draw Craig, who is homeless and attends school full time for programming or design, I am not sure which. He was celebrating his receipt of a design award from his department and let his hair down for the portrait with a toothy grin. I also drew one of the bartenders. I asked Blaine what makes him happy, because his brow seemed to be in a furrow, and he said, "I love being lost".

Blaine is an RA in one of the dorms and was able to get me an empty dorm room to stay the night in. After foraging through a closet full of left-behind linens he procured a fetching set of turquoise sheets and a bright pink quilt. I told him I was afraid of the dark (true) and he found a really charming white lamp. I didn't have time to draw it yet but plan to draw from a photo I took.

After going to bed late (and waking once at 3:30am to the sound of the neighboring teenagers having sex, which was sort of depressing because there were sexual assault awareness posters in all the bathroom stalls in the women's bathroom, and I couldn't help to think that they were both probably very drunk) I woke up for good at 7:00, and after packing and repacking and showering, I looked out the window and drew this rather anemic-looking landscape. The trees there are way leafier in real life but I like the spareness of the lines. I didn't finish the drawing because the hills reminded me so much of all the mountains I saw in North Carolina and made me lonesome to see them again.

 After seeing the a bunch of cool animals and plants with Blaine (which I will write about in a different post and in the comic) and getting some lunch at the cafeteria, we settled in one of the community rooms to listen to music and fart around until I had to leave for Albany. It was raining really hard outside. Cindy got a cigarette roller and some filtered papers and was assembling cigarettes. Blaine was doing his very best to sit still after drinking too much coffee. I really like the drawing of Blaine on the left, after making the one on the right look creepy and giving him a heavy brow.

I got back to the city around 8 and hauled my bags and a small potted plant (I got it from Noah, who gave us a tour of his contributions to the greenhouses and proudly showed us his small, four year old mango tree) and managed to just barely get in to a presentation on Comics Journalism at a place on Union Avenue in Williamsburg called Union Docs. The lecture was down a narrow hallway in an old long room with white painted tin tiles and dark brown wood flooring, with little circulation and full of people mostly my age in folding chairs. It felt a bit like a church in the Delta (though I have never been inside of one). When I got there I was an hour late (and smelled like cow poop) and the outside door was locked-- I thought for sure I'd missed the chance to see Josh Neufeld and Seth Tobocman talk about their stuff. I was hoping to hear them speak about their work, since I'm interested in taking Seth's class this summer, and applying to the residency Josh is teaching in the fall. One of the event workers came to the front door (for no apparent reason other than there is a God and he loves comics) and let me in. I was beyond happy to be on the inside of that cold, locked door after shuffling my feet wondering what to do. The talk was really informative, encouraging and exciting. When Josh Neufeld talked about Hurricane Katrina and showed slides of the wrecked houses; he spoke movingly about why he thought it was important to make comics about the tragedy. He was stationed as a disaster worker with the American Red Cross in my hometown of Biloxi and said exploring loss helped him deal with feelings he had about being a New Yorker during 9/11. I always felt like the rest of America (and New Yorkers especially) didn't understand the great loss and sadness of Katrina, and it was incredible to hear him say that it matters so much to him. Matt Bors, Brooke Gladstone, and Bill Kartalopoulos were also panelists (well, Bill was the official moderator, as he tends to be at these sorts of events). Everyone was super smart and funny and I thought I was going to pass out from being worn out from traveling, losing sleep and eating poorly. I am so thankful I managed to keep myself together and tried really hard to get there because it was an awesome experience.

More photographs and drawings from Cobleskill to come. Thursday I'm going back to Walter Reed with Victor Juhasz, Fred Harper, and some other people, too. I'm humbled by all the peer inspiration and traveling insanity. Time to draw!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Comics, Chickens, Other Adventures

I was going somewhere.

I followed this woman to the library.

Josh Bayer at the Suspect Device release party at Desert Island.

Mike Freiheit and Edwin Vazquez

Sasha Pearl plays G.G. Allin on tenor banjo @ Desert Island.

Passover plate at Blaine and Phoebe's

Blaine torching the chametz.

Saturday night on the train.

The new studio chair.

Thunderbolt girl

Chicken butt (similar to cat butt)

Prospective apprentices at Imani Garden

Kids in the coop

Running chicken count and chores

Coffee chaff on the coop floor (very very soft)

Chickens originated in the jungle near Indonesia and love trees

 I will keep loving because I believe in love
Ivory Road - King Charles

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Society of Illustrators Sketch Night

This last one is particularly awful, but I find it soothing. Look at that big beefy forearm! It reminds me of Alice Neel's self portrait.