Something about a bird and a power line

As I mentioned after my last trip to the Outer Banks, I enjoy seeing the above ground power lines connecting the houses. The birds like them too. Here’s one that settled across the way.

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I also got a nice picture of my almost five-year-old daughter enjoying a little freedom on the beach this evening. There was an incredible sky, and so many birds were out fishing. I took a bunch of pictures. When I get home I will try to work out how to paint it.

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Balancing art and design, finishing the beekeeping painting

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I like to balance my art and design work–they can inform each other well that way, and counterweight each other’s forms of concentration. My time recently has been heavily focused on design work, which has provided a constant sense of urgency. I haven’t been able to re-enter painting, nor have I wanted to–it was important to keep up the level of intensity and focus to pull these design engagements though, and when I am involved in a painting, I think about it even when not working on it. But I could feel an imbalance creeping in. Fortunately my team and I wrapped up a few engagements and I was able last night and tonight to get back into and wrap up the beekeeping painting as well. I masked the highlights in the bee suit, dropped some wet in wet colors for the mid tones, then got into the shadows and the face behind the mask. Getting the face was difficult and I worked it too much before looking at John Singer Sargent’s watercolors for guidance on portraying a face quickly. These few swipes were how I settled it. I think the head might be too big, but I am satisfied with it for tonight. I like the way the suit ended up. It is a little more colorful than real, dreamlike in the midst of some concrete things, such the trailer, but that’s important. Beekeeping is magic as much as reality, as is Lakeville, and even, to be a little silly about it, as is life.

Thanks for reading.

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Remembering the 80’s and 90’s, Proust, Tennis, and Okkervil River

“You can never go back, you can only remember.”

“Show me my best memory is probably super crappy.”

–from Okkervil River’s new album, The Silver Gymnasium

A few things recently have given me the nostalgia bug. I started reading Proust, I got back into playing tennis (something I took seriously in the 90’s), and I got hooked on Okkervil River’s new album, “The Silver Gymnasium.”

The album takes place in the mid 80’s in the singer’s old home town in New Hampshire, and it’s full of brilliant wistful lines and sharp observations that really remind me of my own childhood. To promote the album, Will Sheff, the frontman, reconnected with an old friend and performed new songs at open mic nights around their old town, and filmed songs and reminiscences in their old high school (which I think he attended in the 90’s). His stories brought me back to all the afternoons playing guitar at the tennis shack before practice and matches, and losing focus while playing tennis because I was singing Radiohead songs while wandering around the court. OK Computer had just come out and were were all thrilled when we could play Paranoid Android. Radiohead is not good tennis playing music, by the way. I played a tennis match a couple weeks ago that really cemented the remembrance . The leaves started blowing around, and I had an instant flashback to fall tennis in high school. I really got Proust at that moment.

To get my game back to where it used to be, I’ve been watching tennis from the 80’s and 90’s. Such a different game then before the crazy power/spin racquets people use today. I am a serve and volley player, and I don’t like that people don’t play like that any more. There was always that great stylistic battle between serve and volley and baseline players. Who can serve and volley today with the ridiculous racquets, slower ball, and ground-stroke happy players. Tennis was more artistic before. Edberg, Sampras, Rafter played incredible, concise tennis. These 5 hour matches today are rambling, almost like 18th century novels. There seems to be so much waste.

Watching older and older matches (long haired Agassi, Michael Chang at the French Open) brought back another memory of the 80’s: watching Reading Rainbow and Square One on PBS, then seeing the news come on afterwards. They always gave updates on the Dow going down. I was afraid of the Dow. Still am.

Thanks for reading.