Sunday, April 29, 2012

no excuses

Apologizing for not blogging is rather like telling everyone you're sorry you didn't have breakfast this morning in that nobody has noticed but now that you mention it, why didn't you?

I must admit I'm feeling a little strange that although I now live in Canada I still pay much more attention to American news and politics than I do to those of this country. Its not that there aren't some serious issues that need to be addressed here but somehow I feel that people a lot more committed and knowledgeable than me have a better handle on the particulars. Besides,  34 years in the US made me addicted to the show and the fact that most of my closest friends are Americans makes certain I stay connected. Naturally, I worry. There's also the fact that nowhere is very far away any more.

Except for Crow. He can go where he pleases and stay as long as he likes. He sent me an invitation just yesterday to join him on a jaunt over the magical islands of the Aegean Sea as they were long ago. His only conditions are that I bring some fruitcake, a case of Remy, and agree to help pedal his anti-gravity flying machine. I may just take him up on it :-)

Always remember, we'll be friends until we're old and senile.. Then we'll be new friends.

Friday, April 20, 2012

moving pains

I was glad to get a card from Crow today showing him in apparently fine spirits and enjoying a lovely landscape in good company. Hopefully, I'll be able to provide him with a colored version of this nice scene on his return.

In the meanwhile, we're in search of a new and different place to live, a quest that's proving all the more complicated because of computerized listings. Do you remember the days when an apartment search simply involved buying the daily newspaper and reading the classifieds? Back then people used to put signs on the front lawn too. It's not like that any more. Now you must look online under 'apartments for rent (in the city of your choice)' where you will likely find several hundred companies that provide listings of places available.

Listings are abundant on major sites like Kijiji, Craigslist, and Padmapper (!) but many, many more are only posted on the sites of the large companies that own the buildings which will lead you to jotting down a potentially interesting address and googling the place when you get home - often to discover you've been looking hopefully at a condo. No, buying isn't an option.

Halifax has very strict fixed lease laws most of which are signed for a year. Since it's a university town we've run into a lot of places being advertised right now as summer sublets for students who intend to return in September. Even though we're not interested in a 3 month rental, it's impossible to filter these ads out of our searches and some of them are very sly. We saw pictures of one apartment that had the Eiffel Tower outside the window. Another was an apartment in the building where we live that showed photographs of and described what could only have been a multi-million dollar place in NYC. I am certain there are no apartments in this building that have a marble pool in the bathroom nor a landscaped terrace garden filled with roses and fruited vines.

Although it's no surprise that students eager to avoid extra rent payments are less than honest, it's also a fact that landlords have a tendency to do the same. Walking in the park is preferable but the only real way to know whether or not the place you've found on the internet is worth considering is to go there. It's a good thing we enjoy exercise because finding the right place may take a while.

Do you have any special projects this spring? Personally, I'd rather be hanging out with Crow, wherever he is.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

tree hugging

It's spring just about everywhere in the northern hemisphere now and most of you are seeing new leaves. Since Halifax is more northerly our trees are still bare and even so there aren't many around here that look like these, but this morning I found myself thinking about copper beech trees, my favorites, and the first time I really noticed one. We lived in Providence at the time and had just moved to a new neighborhood where there were some very large houses a few blocks away from our small house.

One particularly large and very old place was set far back from the sidewalk and in front of it was a tree like none I'd ever noticed before. It was huge - at least 100 feet tall, much taller than the large house it sheltered, with a crown equally wide. The massive trunk, probably 10 feet around, pale gray and quite smooth had thick branches spreading from it not far above the grass. For someone as afraid of heights as me this one looked like a friendly tree to climb. I've learned since that they normally live about 200 years, although there are many much older. Furthermore, they don't begin to flower and bear fruit (in their case, nuts) until they're between 30-80 years old. I suspect the main reason they aren't more common in our cities is the fact they get so big.

Something that's especially wonderful about all trees is the fact that they're perfectly formed to allow the most light to reach every growing part of themselves. It would be a good thing if our towns and especially our cities were designed the same way. I don't mean we should live in tree houses, although that would be nice, but that we weren't subjected to so much darkness because of all the towering slabs made of concrete that shadow us.

I've been reading about ways of building and building codes that were in common practice until very recently. I'll tell you about next time. Meanwhile, enjoy the nice weather and new growth wherever you are.

Do you have a favorite tree? There's plenty of room in this one.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

still sketching

One of the things I definitely have some problems depicting is realistic looking architecture. I started out here with the intention of drawing a modern grim looking city with my young friend and her companion gazing out in dismay. Before I knew it I was adding cupolas, balconies, huge curved cutout windows, and an old Chinese tea house on top of what I'd originally thought would be a parking garage. Next will come the trees and flowers, for goodness sake! This may give you an idea of the kind of difficulty I have when I think about the dark story leading to redemption I have in mind compared to the images that appear on the page. Ah well, yesterday I bought some new pencils, two pencil sharpeners (two in the packet), and more paper. It looks like I'll be continuing the process for at least a little while longer if only to discover what the back of my mind is thinking while I'm busy making other plans.

I don't mind cities as places of convenience and for diversion but most modern architecture in North America is beyond boring. When I get right down to it I wish everybody could live in a Hundertwasser neighborhood.

Every so often a video will come along that's longer than 3 minutes and I'm wise enough to know that even that amount of time is too much to ask for a blog visit. Nevertheless, Numb found this recently and I'm going to post it now just so I know where to find it next time I'd like to see something that's very inspiring. It's good to know there are still some kids who understand the value of a cardboard box. You may enjoy it too even if you just bookmark it for later.

Caine's Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

All the best til next time.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

projects past and improbable

I got tired of looking at the last image when I open the blog so I thought I'd post one of the old paintings that hasn't made an appearance in a while. It's called 'The World' and is one of the Sufi mandalas I did about ten years ago.

Meanwhile, this is the most recent of the quick sketches from a story that keeps sliding in and out of view and in a way it may be the perfect one to describe how I'm feeling about the project.. at sea. I'm no longer certain it will go much further unless it's strictly as a series of drawings and paintings that people would be able to draw their own conclusions about. So for the time being I think I'll leave it in the background while it makes up its mind about what it wants to be.

Lastly, here's another vimeo animation you may enjoy:

Wing from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.