Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I think I've heard both. One story is: a long time ago caricaturists use to draw crazy. Now everybody just draws fast and “cute.” The other story is the opposite. There’s your traditional caricatures and then there’s your new school crazy ones. It’s strange how the word traditional gets used for caricature. The tradition caricatures actually comes from is a tradition where a drawing is done for the newspaper in order to smear some politician or public figure. Of course there are also live caricature traditions too. But live caricatures haven’t been around all that long. When I think of live caricature traditions I think of the best of Dino and Tom Richmond, but that’s just me. Me and growing up in a small town in Ohio and going to Cedar Point. Live caricatures may have been around for a while, but everybody seeing everybody else’s live caricatures is only as old as the internet. Or the widespread use thereof. The early 2000s. Now that’s young. Twenty years. Editorial or newspaper caricatures has built into it an element of mass exposure. Mass exposure is new for live caricatures because the artform doesn’t work that way. The more public any given live caricature of some person becomes the more it wades into a different role. The role of the editorial caricature—also, the more of a public figure the subject is. Editorial caricature is a public drawing of a public figure.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Live Caricatures as Hanbok

There's an appeal to caricatures that’s a bit like trying on Hanbok. In Korea the old tradition clothes is called Hanbok. You can look it up or you can just imagine that it’s very ornate and fancy and cumbersome and Asian looking. You know what old traditional Chinese garb looks like. Maybe it’s what you just think of as Chinese garb period, because you’re racist but I’m telling you now, people in China don’t dress like that anymore, but tourists—and more often in Korea—young Koreans who are on vacation might go to a place where they can rent the traditional garb, and they’ll walk around and take pictures and it’s a big hoot.

There is some appeal to live caricatures that is very similar in a way. I think as professional caricature artists we can get divorced from this appeal, but the appeal goes like this. People read magazines—or at least they use to, and in the magazine you see these drawings that are there to make fun of what some famous person looks like—some face that’s always in the public eye bombarding everybody with their weird old face, more or less because to be on a tv show and communicate your views and your agendas you need to have your face there. But as a byproduct of your face being there, we all have to see it, and the caricature in the magazine points out the elephant-in-the-room stuff about your face and that sort of builds a trust between the reader and the voice of the magazine—a trust that everything is being accounted for—and a trust that the magazine has a sense of humor despite all this talkity talk their doing. 

But caricature has a home in that format and is in part, no doubt, a product of that format. 
Then someone who reads those magazines and sees those drawings and then goes to the theme park can get this simulation of what their caricature might look like, were they famous—were they in the public eye. 

So I’m just addressing one portion of the appeal. And I can’t say how big or small that portion might be. I’m sure it’s not all of it. But a live caricature artist doesn’t want to think of himself or herself or they-self as a simulator of actual caricatures. 

That is to say that a theme park caricature can’t be a caricature in that exact same sense that a magazine caricature is a caricature. Magazine caricatures deal with public figures and only have to distinguish the subject out from among all the other public figures, in order to signify the person whose face is being addressed or made fun of. 

From among what group is the live caricature customer being singled out? Is it all people? Is it the person's friends and family? The answer’s not as obvious as it is with magazine caricatures. If you come across a caricature in a magazine and feel it looks more like a friend of yours than it does Bob Dole, as long as it looks more like Bob Dole than some other famous person, you can be reasonably sure that it’s Bob Dole’s face that’s being commented on or made fun of and not your friend's.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Truth Makes Us Write. Art Lets Us Finish

drawing caricatures live with the possibility of rejection looming can feel like playing Operation..or it might be a bit more like a jack-in-the-box where it's a little more out of your control..one of those kind of games..or like Russian Roulette played until somebody loses. but maybe its only like that if you think about it like that, if you worry about it. if you allow yourself to get outside of the moment. if the customers become the customers rather than this specific person. when people say something in response to the drawing that to them might be the most natural and spontaneous thing but to us is Things That Customers Say Every Once In A While. a firey little hot button. it turns this "person you just met" into a "type of situation". i think for me writing is not about writing per se but about whatever thing I'm trying to convey, but then it is the idea of Writing—rather "writing per se" that allows me to call it finished. to feel justified in posting it somewhere. and i considered phrasing this more so as to frame what I feel writing is truly about in the grander sense, or for everyone. I was going to leave out the "for me" part and it would then have been a little bolder. and saying "for me" can come off a little grovely but i was intending more to talk about my approach. And I'm fairly new to writing and I should say "writing my thoughts and showing them" because writing sounds like there's some value to Writing or reading someone's writing beyond the meaning being conveyed, but currently I dont think there is and if I should ever get to the point where I do, I suspect that will be the end of my writing being worth reading. truth makes us write. art lets us finish.

what is it exactly i been thinkin about? a way of framing it might be what exactly to make of the massive tsunami of favor for what caricaturists (but I’m using the term “caricaturists” colloquially because as you will soon see, in this writing I’m dealing with the caricaturist as a kind of archetype) would call “cuticatures.” before i wrote about the “pop portrait” concept. I’m not sure if I called it that, I’ll have to go back and look at what ive posted, but ive thought about caricatures being like the fuel for portraits, as in the caricaturists get in there and get dirty because it's who they are and it's what they gotta do and they cant handle the golf clap reactions and the portrait artists are the diplomats because that's who they are and what they do and they use the parts forged by the caricaturist and harmonize them. 
     but recently i've been thinking about this. it sprung forth from this kernel of imagining that portrait artists inhabit the space of their artform as residents but caricaturists come to it temporarily like little wild electrons drawn in by the gravity of there being something really interesting going on, and then they draw their caricatures and they are gone. they are passing through. i felt that picture of it. I’m able to see myself as the caricaturist, and I’m also able to see myself as the portrait artist. This isn’t about classifying people. It’s about trying to think about and talk about caricatures and portraits as honestly as i can from my little window. I’m interested in how it connects to everything else. As I’m writing now I’m starting to feel a little guarded. I’m not sure if that’s for better or worse, but most of what I’ve posted on my blog has been written before hand without consideration as to whether I would post it, but now that I’ve posted some I’m beginning to feel the pull toward that diplomatic showmanship mentality. 
     But truth be told any time I’ve written anything there’s always been some feeling of it being for something besides my own personal record, so i anticipate the mistake of over correcting too far in the opposite direction and i avoid it. 

 Maybe we can see four archetypes: The caricaturist, the portraitist, the caricature customer, and the portrait customer. And caricaturists and their customers are fearless and they’re right up in each others faces and then the portrait artists and their similarly guarded and cautious customers have the caricaturist and the caricaturist’s customer between them as a buffer. 

portraits and caricatures are made up of all these parts, parts that i will call shapes. but the shapes aren’t necessarily divided up in the way that most people divide faces up because we’re not dealing with the typical biological sense functions of features. We’re talking about the function of likeness which acts as kind of a key. And that’s the function, and that’s what the artist is sensitive to. But shapes are traditionally thought of as these linear figures. something akin to geometric shapes, a line that goes for a little trip and eventually ends up back at the point from where it started. Or something along those lines, pun intended. I suppose that old traditional concept of shape is tied in with writing and linear thinking. And it’s a matter of everyone being on the same page pun intended. but now there’re all kinds of icons out there now. and it’s all part of a visual language. and the color carries meaning and the texture carries meaning. Shape, as far as likeness is concerned is synonymous with “aspect.”

Friday, December 29, 2017

“Look like” is an interesting couple of words. Every caricature artist knows that a caricature has to look like the people, but more and more, these days I’m getting a sense of some customers and passers by having a different conception of “look like” than I do. Just yesterday a coworker of mine was doing a really fun great caricature which was really funny and had a great likeness and there was this lady who saw it and really laughed and enjoyed it and was just really taken by it. I mean to say it was a very positive caricature response and one of the things she said was that it doesn't look like them or something very much along those lines and very emphatic. But we look at it as a total failure if the drawing doesn't look like the subject, particularly to us, and we also hope the customer or family or friends will see the likeness. But could some customers conceive of likeness differently? So in this scenario the drawing manages to be funny (and I would say) as it relates to the subject (to give the scenario the full benefit of the doubt) but it doesn't look like them, so the only way it can be funny is for it to look like them according to our definition and then the “doesn't look like them” of their definition speaks to all the distortions and exaggerations, and which is which doesn't matter to them, because the point is that the drawing of these people is genuinely funny in its relationship to the subject and “doesn't look like them.” and that’s in their words. I think it is an odd way of looking at it, but I can make sense of it if I imagine a view of likeness where likeness and humor are thought to be mutually exclusive--or truth and humor. It’s not so far fetched. It runs contrary to the “it’s funny because it’s true” mantra, though, but surely that phrase only exists because at one point it really meant something and went against common knowledge. Maybe all I’m really saying is that the concept of  “it’s funny because it’s true” which is such a given in the circles that I run, may not have been canonized just yet by all of human society ala gravity.

Monday, December 25, 2017

to you, all this is completely new. to me it’s like groundhogs day--the same things over and over and over, all except for one thing which is that your face is like no other face in the world—your expressions, everything about it is completely new.  so then, i can react to the essence of what exactly is bizarre about it or i can draw you so that i hope you might not be offended. i can throw a thousand tiny little tricks at you that i’ve built up from living in this groundhog day repetitious world, or i can throw myself at this tiny bizarre kernel at the center of the whole charade. to draw the shape that is unique to you and only you even though i cant have seen it and so can’t have practiced it before. and it is hard to even see it in a way because you can’t look for it actively, because to look for something you have to know what you’re looking for. but it's easy to see if you’re not looking because its gonna be this big strange glaring anomaly, this aspect of your face which is.. so odd in fact that it’s the very shape my mind saves the face in its memory under in order to distinguish it from among all the others.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

No one in this world can show what one particular person looks like but a "caricature artist"-- someone whose sight hasn't been impaired by the desire to show, and whose ability to show hasn't been overrun by an excess of clarity. But it takes a person to see a person. A camera can't do it but a person holding a camera can, and one who can see and has the desire to show will find the lighting and the angle and the moment which distills what they see, when they see a person, into something that can be shown and kept and held. And a caricature artist, seeing the photo can boil it down further and enhance it, just as they can with anything, with a recognition of the shapes and knowledge of the meaning behind them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

shape is a fundamental element. I keep coming back to this unit. a shape is an aspect. an aspect of a given face, an aspect of a given drawing, an aspect of a given anything. and if a given face has some particular set of aspects and a drawing has that same set of aspects than the two will match. as in the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. there will be in the drawing a perfect likeness to the face. So it’s as simple as that and it starts here. but to get a perfect likeness is an impossible or nonsensical task until you add another element to the mix, and what is that element? well i think it’s actually a matter of language. but whatever it is, it functions to limit the number of aspects so you don't have to draw and examine forever.

i'd always thought about there being two types of drawing: one from observation and one from the imagination, but i think i see it all as observation. there's the part of our mind that we don't have immediate access to, but we do have some kind of access to it  and so it's the same as drawing from observation. i don't have access to what a horse looks like but i do have some kind of access to it. when i look at it i can find some information about what a horse looks like that i didn't have immediate access to. all i really mean to say is that the important element about the external that we draw observationally, this internal semi or subconscious part of us also shares. and if i am to do work that i myself find interesting, it would need to have something present within it, some stimuli that i'm not able to freely conjure with my conscious mind or indeed why wouldn't i?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


are opposicatures possible? well. it would just be a drawing of a completely different person who may be out there somewhere hypothetically. something about opposicatures doesnt sit with me. right now im thinking about maybe its the idea that perhaps likeness is what links a caricature to its subject matter. i think one of the key elements that sets caricatures and maybe portraits too, but i would say especially caricatures, apart from other artforms is the link between the drawing and the subject matter. also with jazz theres a thing called standards which means there's a limited number of familiar songs and then those songs are covered every which way by different artists and even by the same artists in different performances. but the set of standards is fairly limited to keep that link between the version of the song being performed in that moment and the standard it's referencing. but the point im getting at is that i think the link is important and how that link is established is important and i suspect that likeness is a big part of the link. and if the drawing looks a hundered times more like larry bird than it does steve urkle and its hillarious in this regard as all caricatures should be than how is it linked to steve urkle? because i say it is? and with jazz standards too it isnt just linked in nomenclature either. its linked because people have an affinity for particular songs and that's why the songs are covered by the jazz musicians.

another thing is i think that caricatures ought to hit you without having to think about it. i think ideally you're doing things that seem like they ought not to work but then they do, and what i mean by work is i mean hit you, feel like the person, ideally without thinking about it, and i think the ideal realm is the realm we have to opperate in when were defining things. but an opposicature you'd have to think about. It would be too cerebral if even cerebral. caricatures work because our mind uses the function of likeness to recognize people without even thinking about it. our mind has no need and no interest to recognize the opposite of what people look like, if such a thing can even be rightly conceived of.

for me what distinguishes one face from another is not the proportions of whatever dimensions but rather the hodge podge of shapes that make up the face, again ideally. if we talk about big nose versus small nose, i still wonder what kind of nose. and wouldnt the opposite of a very big nose be no nose at all? or would it be a very very small nose?

but i'm certainly picking , no pun intended, something apart which is at it's core about humor. an opposicature is possible. you can just say who it's  suppose to be and use your sense of humor to find the funny possibilities. so i guess thats my final answer, but the idea of opposicatures got my brain spinning a little bit and we had a good little run there.

could it be an issue that most art has caricature and subject matter built into it, and "Caricatures" the artform, points to a peice and then claims that the subject matter is out there. or it claims that you or someone you love is the subject matter. could this be a problem? hmm. So then, if a caricature is to be art or to put it differently, if it is to be worth while, it seems like it would need to address two subject matters. one being the likeness of the individual and the other being whatever else. i guess something more universal. 

speaking of that, I was thinking about how live caricatures are different from stand up comedy in certain ways. One of the big ones that has recently come to mind is that a stand up comedian's subject matter is different from a live caricature artist's. A stand up comic's subject matter is the human experience which we all share equally. A live caricature artist's subject matter is the likeness of this individual which these people, the customer's and their friends and stuff may be more intimately connected with. And then, as I stated above, I guess it would need another subject matter in addition.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Let me tell you a story. A rookie first year caricature artist one day, feeling frustrated with his customers and with his abilities left his stand and traveled to a faraway land to meet with an old caricature master in hopes that he could obtain some wisdom which he could then apply to his craft in order to become a better caricature artist. When he finally pushed through the crowds of the busy farmers market in the faraway city he found the old man drawing, and his model was the plainest, most impossible face the rookie caricaturist had ever seen.

But when the old master finished in a few quick moments the drawing on his board was an astonishing sight to behold, and when he tore off the drawing and showed the customer they and their family watching and all the crowd around them burst into laughter. There were a few customers after that, all with similar reactions, and the rookie waited around until finally he had a moment to seek the council of the old master. And when he did he beseeched him.

"Master, I am nought but a first year rookie. All my life I have pursued art and I have spent all my money and four years of my life at art school, but now I have tasted of caricatures and I want nothing but to draw people and show them their faces and make them laugh. I seek from you guidance, any helpful word you might have to offer. The old master scratched his beard and thought for a moment. finally he said:

"let me tell you a story. When I was a first year artist like yourself I went about it pretty much like everybody does. Except for one thing. When I wasn't drawing caricatures I spent every waking second learning to paint with oils. And after many years, finally I got to a point where I'd mastered oils, and after I'd mastered oils I went and took all the oil paints and brushes and I shoved it all up my arse. And then I moved on to pastels. By day I drew caricatures and by night in the secrecy of my studio I studied chalk pastels till I mastered them. Then I shoved all the pastels up my arse. After that, watercolor and I continued on like this. Learning graphite pencil, guache, even crayons and then shoving it all up my arse. Then one slow chilly October day a boy came up to me, and you might not believe it. I could hardly believe it myself when I saw it with my own two eyes, but his face was made of crayon lines. It’s even near impossible to conceive of it with the human mind unless you see it with your own two eyes, but my hand to God, as sure I'm talking to you, this boy's face defied all reason. The slopes and the crevices and the shapes of every last feature were the lines and textures of the simple crayon. That rudimentary tool they give to a child in kindergarten. But I tell you now, when that boy with his inexplicable face sat down before for me I was able to draw him, what with crayons being in my arse n all.

At this the young rookie thanked the old master and left, never to return again.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

There are two approaches, for drawing a live caricature, and I guess it would apply to other things too. There's the severed thumb approach. This is referencing the little trick you can do to make it look like your thumb is dissattaching and reattatching. Tou know the one. I imagine a little two year old being difficult at a family reunion or something and the silly old uncle sits beside him and shows him this trick and he sees it for the first time and is amazed and the uncle manages to keep the little rascal occupied for a while but this is more about how a fun older person is able to keep a young person entertained and engaged and occupied by staying ahead of their expectations. It's kind of like when one person can consistently beat the other at rock scissors paper. Anyway, we'll call it the severed thumb approach.  And it's a type of approach to entertainment. The other type I will call the Don Quixote approach. This approach you are seen from the outside. You're dreaming the impossible dreams and stabbing at invisible dragons. So the thumb trick approach is about having a carefully crafted thing and sort of coddling the audience. Taking them for a wild ride, every twist and turn of which is in your control. The Don Quixote approach is sort of experimental in a way. It's sort of surrealist. That's a better way to think of it. Grasping for things that you can feel at the periphery of your consciousness. So if you're sure that you have a thumb trick that will mystify your audience, do that, but if you suspect that it may be the other way around, Don Quixote will be the only way that you can entertain your audience directly. Indirectly, a thumb trick could work, but it would require that the audience be interested sort of anthropologically, as in, wow this method that you use for entertaining folks is really interesting.

Think about beginning artists. Imagine your very first live caricature. What if the very first person who sits for you is even remotely familiar with live caricatures. If you took the severed thumb approach and gave them a clean quick sketch with that cocky experienced "just leave it to me" type of attitude the customer will be insulted and disgusted at your utter arrogance and lack of skill, and that's why most beginners understand naturally that the approach in this type of situation has to be different. 

That's when you humble yourself and do your best and grasp for the unreachable. Stretching your mind doing the bestest best you've ever done, and you can acknowledge showmanship in whatever way but it cant be real showmanship because you don't have control of the audience.

But the point is this. For someone who can't see through the magic trick, enormous throbbing 100% souped up confidence and charisma will enhance the experience and the personal connection while the same approach for someone who can see through the trick is rather sad and disappointing. However, for someone for whom the trick wouldn't work, what would work is honesty and openness and experimentation and soul searching and mind stretching, and basically things that will strengthen you as a human and add power to your thumb trick.

Monday, August 21, 2017

So what is this other duality? I'm just writing this one fresh. I've done some thinking and writing the past couple days in the notes of my iphone and it's a lot of disconnected pieces relating to a particular duality that came to mind which is a different possible way of defining caricatures and portraits. Hopefully as I type here things will connect naturally or at least have a pleasing, cohesive rhythm. What to make of this other duality? Entertainment versus Art let's say. Caricature would have to be the entertainment. Portraiture would have to be the Art. What am I getting at? I'll tell ya. A live caricature artist has this responsibility to entertain. And Portraiture traditions have this bubble of protection around artists and their subjective expressions. Art feels like it's protected from the idiot mob so to speak and Entertainment feels like it's at its service.

So I think I figured out what's going on. The previous way I'd defined caricatures and portraits was humor versus reverence and the above definition is Entertainment versus Art more or less. So now we're going to be talking about the duality of these two dualities. Golly, if you'd a told me I was gonna say duality so much today I wouldn't have believed you. Humor versus reverence is a definition for the customer. It's about their responsibility. Entertainment versus Art is about our responsibility. So basically if a customer had a bad caricature experience, it's not for them to say "You're job was to entertain me and you failed." But they could say of a caricature "I'm sorry. I just don't think it's funny" and it would help their case if they didn't laugh. Or with a portrait they might be able to complain that it doesn't look like the person. Which might be more difficult to prove but at least that would be the nature of the discussion. Or heck, it's something like that. Entertainment versus Art feels antiquated and used up and corrupted in a way. But I guess the problem is when it's not just taken as speaking on personal creative responsibilities and setting the highest possible standards for yourself and instead it's trademarked and slapped on a lunchbox. And then the ideal becomes conflated with the lowest common denominator and you get boring art history books and summer movies that aren't fun but seem like they ought to be because they're sufficiently vacuous.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

the false distinction between caricatures and portraits that i see is one where caricatures are exaggerated drawings and portraits are not. and a slightly more level headed way of thinking that i aim to go against here is that caricatures are on one end of the spectrum and portraits are on the other, gradiating up and back in levels of exaggeration. i think this can be done away with because caricatures and portraits are really truely thought of as being different from each other, in the general public as well as in the caricature and portrait community. 

caricatures aim to be funny. portraits aim to be serious. a caricature artist will use exaggeration to make the drawing funny. a portrait artist will use exaggeration to make the drawing respectful, reverent, harmonious, sublime, what have you. 

caricatures portraits and the publics expectations

a portrait is a drawing that, to the best of the artists abilities, in the time alotted, is meant to look like the subject. energy might also be put toward other decorative or expressive aspects of the drawing, but most importantly, a portrait is meant to look like the subject. if a portrait fails to look like the subject, the customer has cause to complain.

a caricature on the other hand is a drawing that is meant to look like the subject and be funny. if a caricature fails to look like the subject or fails to be funny, the customer has cause to complain. but its interesting. caricature customers all but never complain about a drawing not being funny.

heres what i think thats all about. i think there is this massive demand for live portraits as i've defined above, and the only people drawing them are doing so under the monicker of "caricature", because theres freedom there. portraits advertised as "portraits" until perhaps very recently offered very little freedom because "portraits" meant a really tight drawing of a photo or something very acedemic from a live model like a john singer sergent painting or something. an aesthetic for live portraits had yet to emerge. If an attempted drawing of a person were simplified and cartoony and also, inadvertantly lacking a bit of likeness, the customer might be quick to complain or refuse to pay, because the artists intentions wouldnt have been clear enough. so it has been within the realm of "live caricatures" that a "live portraits" aesthetic has gestated. and its just as artistically legitamate as live caricatures. (if i have to say that.) 

somehow, i feel like we're in the sweet spot right now where portrait artists and caricature artists are working side by side, and in many cases artists have a gift for both. what i think will happen eventually as just a natural progression of things is that caricatures and portraits will separate out to their rightfull corners but we will look back on our current era as a very special time for live caricature/portraiture.

but i want to be clear though. there is still hackery and charletonism. and neither i nor any of my friends are exempt from the pressures of ego or greed or whathaveyou that lead to toxic approaches that hinder genuine creativity. so, i fall short of going beyond the abstract concept of hackery and classifying actual individuals in such a way, but i'm just saying there is portraiure, there is caricature.

for a couple months ive had these thoughts about the differences between portraits and caricatures and id been nursing them here and there, and then all this stuff about classification and listing pops out of nowhere. at the time of this writing i can't say much for the connection between "portraits/caricatures" and "classification/listing" but without further ado:

classification and listing

theres a way to draw a portrait wherein there are assumed to be a limited number of features and then each person has each feature and each feature is assesed by the artist and classified, and there can be any number of types within some particular feature set, ie there can be any number of types of noses, so noses would be a feature, but noses wouldnt have to be in the list of features, it could be some other features that make up the nose and then each would need to be classified, but of course that would take longer, naturally. if you only had one feature and it was the whole face, that fits within this apprach, but for it to work you would then need like a billion different types in order to have a different caricature for a billion different people. 

and a different way of tackling it could be what i would call listing. listing could be thought of as the opposite of classifying. with listing, if its there, you draw it. its a bit like binary. its either present or absent. but then, of course you're counting on a few features to be present cuz if they all call in sick you're up a creek without a paddle. if the caricature question, "what do you do when the person doesnt have anything interesting going on with their face?" perplexes you, I'd say you're a lister.

classification doesnt have this problem because a classifier is an expert at types, if someones got a few somewhat unusual somethings, he's bound to find most of them. but he might miss some glarringly obvious thing. because the unusualness of a feature and the scarcity of a feature go hand in hand. the more unusual it is the less likely it is to be within a classifier's vocabulary.

i think most caricatury caricaturists are listers. they have a huge gag set, and then when someone sits down its a matter of combining them in such a way that all the gags are clear. 

looking at caricatures in a listee way, it feels like a comedy set, and a gag is like a joke and people shouldnt steal each others jokes, but with classification, if a joke lands well enough and feels enough like an inevitable enough way of simplifying something than it would merely become a type for what ever respective feature.

i guess an example could be I use to wait egerly for someone to sit down whos eyes were such that i felt it fitting to draw them as perfect circles, now I find myself using circles more frequently. i would say its in large part due to the fact that ive got a good enough grip on other features and shapes and ideas that if the circle eyes didnt end up being a right on the money enough gag by themself, their would be a few other things going on that could resonate with the customer to where they would more or less come along with me to see the eyes as how i drew them. but this can be a tough one for eyes, people can be very sensitive about eye shapes and details. someone once said, and i think it was me, "the eyes are the face of face." 

studio/fine art caricature favors listing in this way. you get to choose your subject, and then you list all the reasons you chose it. while live caricature favors classification because its built to have a fast answer to each and every face. you may not have a lot going on but at the very least your gonna have an eye a nose and a mouth and you can bet the artist will have a bunch of each of those and somethings bound to fit. 

its interesting to note that the listing approach is more common for caricatury caricatures, when its so straightforwardly taking inventory of what is present in a face whereas the approach more typical of what would be thought of as portraits openly necessitates a deviation from what is percieved at each and every step of the journey towards a finished piece. but of couse "what is present" is kind of a stretch. it might be more like what is present that the artist considers worth drawing.

you have to take the concepts that im saying very literally and then try to stretch them to ridiculous points while still adhering to them to see what im really talking about. im not semi blindly tossing things in a general direction and hoping they land. each little peice of the idea is very concrete for me, but here and there are connection points which havent met that i dont want to construct falsly merely to have a complete thing. im a lister in that way.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

the greatest feeling is the feeling you get when you surprise someone  in some enormously bizarre and impressive way, and pull it off with genuine empathy and humility. and when the opportunities prestent themselves in a tiny flicker of a moment they are either siezed or they are not. 

i think many times when people say 'give them what they want' in caricature discussions what they mean is give them something that they wont raise any stink about, because that seems alot easier to do in order to get the money faucet pumping.

giving them what they want litterally would mean giving people something or some experience that they will cherish forever. give them something that they've always needed in their life. something beautiful and perfect that adds something substantial to their existence. giving them what they want when dealt with literally would be something that would be strived for, and only hopefully achieved. it would be the loftyest of possible goals, but the flippancy with which this phrase is usually tossed about sure doesnt sound like that.. "giving them what they want" is more often than not a euphomism for stake out my little corner of the market place, get some kind of harmless enough rouze going where people won't claim shennanigans and then just play the numbers game. defend my little corner and sweep up every penny that drops there and remain unnoticed for as long as possible.

its just like what's happened to the phrase "do your best." if someone can say "i did my best" how wonderful is that. how proud they should be of themselves. there can be no bigger achievement than to have done ones best, but today people shrug their shoulders and say "welp. i did my best." i dont believe them.

Monday, July 31, 2017

the uneducated eye. i have my ideas about the uneducated eye. it sees a painting of a mountain and understands that its one persons version of what a mountain looks like and is able to suspend disbelief like people do with movies and then all these little things about the drawing that dont contribute lets say to the likeness become this sort of friction, this captivating, stimulating friction, like some dissonance. but, if this viewer has a really educated eye, he sees the drawing  and all the parts of it that are not likeness function as plot holes. they don't make the drawing interesting, they make it just a drawing. some shmuts on a piece of paper. the uneducated eye enjoys the drawing like a child enjoys movies where he doesnt think about it as a story made with moving pictures. he might intellectualy grasp that the movie is fake, but sensually he experiences it as though it were real.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Is it the person behind it. Is it the thing being represented. Is it the accuracy. Is it the scintillation, the dissonance. Is it relating. is it novelty. Is it raw nature. Is it pure consciousness . These are questions. Can these questions be considered without throwing away the most important thing of all.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

certain things about peoples faces and expressions have had certain effects upon me, i have found. i would bet im not alone in this. i'll have certain feelings about a person that will be driven by certain things about their face and the way they use it. i can think of a couple examples. a big obvious one is pretty girls. but it doesnt really intimidate me like it did before because i've examined it so much. i mean what im getting at is there's a million of these types of things, here's another one. i get a certain feeling when i look at someone who has big heavy eyelids. some peoples faces have a friendly quality to it like with a smiley mouth and droopy or arched eyes. some people have a built in stand offish or grouchy looking face. but if as an artist i feel the face having some effect on me, i can examine like a detective. i can try to get to the bottom of what is giving me some feeling, and draw it, or i can allow myself and my actions to be regulated by those shapes. or heck maybe a little bit of both.

when people think of what they look like

when people think of "what they look like" I think most of them break their face up into two parts. theres the part that is their essential likeness, and the other part could be thought of as "flaws." they dont see the weird things as being parts of their actual likeness but rather group the "weird things" in the same place as they would put acne, drool, hairstyle. If these parts were gotten rid of, their actual face would still be there, unchanged. But when we look at others, particularly those we havent met or arent close to, we see it all. Whats there is there. We use all the information to distinguish this person from other people. But the person whos face it is has some relatively small set of people that they take into account. And their own face has only to be distinguished from amongst all these people that they know or see often enough. But a caricature or portrait artist doesn't know how big this set is, so even if he is only to convince this one individual that he is depicting them, he has to be as specific as possible, and ignore no grotesque detail. So in this light one can see going generic as more of an empty gesture. The artist's responsibility is to entertain while with this infinite handicap, the necessity for likeness, and yet the responsibility stands. Having never drawn nor even seen this, the shape of what is now sitting before him. To the craftsman, to the workman, to those whos skill is acquired through practice and habit and repetition, the feat of capturing likeness can then be only seen as impossible, but to the observer, the passer through, the seer, its as simple as seeing, because the most garish and unusual thing before you is all youre required to draw.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

the perception might be that caricature artists know what all the features of the face are and then when they see people, they are attuned to which dimensions stand out as being unusual and they are able to point these idiosyncratic proportions out in their drawing by exaggerating how far --at least several of the more notably prodigal dimensions have been offset by the hand of god or nature,  but the truth is that those dimensions--those proportions themselves become features to the artist over time. a beginning caricature artist will set out with some knowledge of common features and proportions and then examine faces in much the way that most would think. they effectively classify all of the major features and "exaggerate" the idiosyncrasies. the idiosyncrasies being aspects of a given face which lie outside of all of the artist's normal facial feature types.  so then if someone's nose is too big to fit the mold so to speak, the artist makes the nose size bigger because that's the one thing that disqualified it from conforming to the set. but eventually when the same deviations keep popping up repeatedly, they become features in and of themselves.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

the old paradigm was that novels and paintings and music were wonders. they were magical. they were spiritual in a way. but the new paradigm is that this is what's possible. this is what you can do. its within your capacity because there's no such thing as magic. mozart is just a guy. but then whats the point of even doing it if it isnt magic. it could be the domain of the magical shifts. or is shifting. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hiccup Cure

Hiccup cure:  Sit up straight, hold your breath and stick your pinky in your bellybutton.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Popular Movies

Hi Blog. How are you. Name's Aaron Philby. Me and Saemee are in Ohio and we've been trying to learn about buying a house. The Weather's been nice on some days and nasty on other days. In short it's very much like Ohio weather, but enough about the weather. Before Ohio we were in Korea and I was spending a lot of time painting and believe it or not, we spent some of one month drawing live caricatures down in JunJu. This kind of stuff.

And this kind of stuff

We worked at Wan Kim's shop out there and let me just say the way he's got his set up and everything, and his way of handling the business is pretty awesome and inspiring, and I knew it would be, just from what I knew of him before we went and drew with his company in Jun Ju.

But Jun Ju, and I know I said this on Facebook already, but who even uses Facebook anymore, Jun Ju is a really really fascinating place to visit in Korea, especially on a nice warm day because you can rent a little motor bike and zoom around and go everywhere you want to go and also, if you're into this sort of thing, you can rent Korean traditional clothes. So just imagine. Let's say you're an ordinary American businessman visiting Korea for some, whatever, investing purposes, I don't know, you can go to Jun Ju, with your middleage self and your conservative glasses and get dressed up as a traditional Korean woman from long ago, before demons began taking over the world, and you can rent a motorbike for 15 bucks. It's priced at 20, but I know you can negotiate, cuz I know your kind. And then you can have the best day of your life zipping around and trying all kinds of peculiar Korean foods and meeting all kinds of interesting people and making everybody's day. Would you do that. For me? I don't know if Steve Forbes comes here, but if he does, I'm talking to you Steve.

 So me and Saemee and Wan Kim and Sergie were out and I snapped a photo when Wan Kim was laughing and I decided to make a great big painting of the whole thing as a thank you to Wan Kim for him letting me and Saemee draw there. I'm happy with it and it took a long time. Hope he likes it. I think he does. 

Also in Korea, after we went back to Seoul, I was doing some of these paintings from screen-capturing stills from movies for a little bit there, and I was posting those up on Instagram. And then I was experimenting with the editing functions on Insta. Trying to see what kinds of looks and feels I could get that weren't just your normal go to thing of--turn up the contrast a little, maybe touch the saturation. But here are some of the paintings out of that that I'm happier with. But I'm showing most of them here more in their original states.

 This is from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the original one. Definitely one of my favorite movies.

This is from Pulp Fiction. I really like the idea of giving solidity to something, some image that people connect with. I'm not sure if I'm putting that exactly as I mean to, but well..on to the next.

I tweaked this one a little since putting it on Instagram. This is a scene from Ace Ventura Pet Detective when his landlord comes up behind him and Ace just hears his scary voice and replies with "yes, Satan?" I really wanted to make it look like he was saying that just as he said it in the movie. 

And this is from Mary Poppins. Another one of my all time favorite movies. By far. This is little Michael Banks trying to snap his fingers. I know I got him looking weird, but maybe that's why they call it a caricature.

From the beginning of The Princess Bride. Oh I forgot to mention. I got my cool Star Wars, art-supplies box here. These are my live caricature supplies, but there's a lot of mixed media. Not just prismacolors, but it's kind of evolved to be a weird little mish mash, and all these drawings...I guess there are a couple exceptions here and there with maybe a little bit of acrylic paint--but just a little and some crayola color marker color--these movie drawings are done with my live caricature art supplies so I was partially doing this to force myself to become more intimate with those tools you might say.

And this is a scene from the Matrix. 

Here's one with a similar shadowy esthetic from The Graduate. And then the last one I'm gonna show here is another one from Pulp Fiction to close it out. There are a few more that I've done. I don't have time to post them now cuz I'm here doing this at the library and they close in five minutes, but you can check out Carnymercury2 on Instagram if you want to see those, but I got them blended into some other big weird thing I'm working on, but anyhow, I did want to put a lot more in this post but the darned library is closing and I gotta get outta here like the rest of the bums. Have a great Sunday, folks.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017


For anybody who's curious about what i got goin on with carnymercury2 on instagram--which use to be my place for just randomly posting all the drawings and paintings i do and have ever done--what i'm trying to do now is kind of an epic collaborative--i feel--conceptually complex type of undertaking. i have several goals colliding together. one thing i want to do is to have my set of pictures treated as a single peice, so i will encourage people to click like on my least liked drawings (forcing the set of images toward an equillibrium in number of likes) by doing free commissions in a sense, in that i will paint or draw the most recent post of the instagrammer who most recently clicked like on my least liked photo. but with these "commissions" the "clients," for lack of a better word will know that the drawing is not only meant to depict their photo but also be a part of the larger peice, and with the knowlege of the forms already in place in the tapestry they will get to decide in what way or to what degree they would like to play off those forms and if and how they would like to respond and add to the images being depicted. i will be challanged by this process to find ways to amalogomate disparate design asthetics and image motifs while staying as true to the submitted images as possible. The possibilities are really exciting and well beyond what i can currently grasp. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 25th (Illustrations by Saemee Yoon)

We woke up at the airbnb. It was really early. Maybe 6:30 because we had to take my car to O’Reilly Auto Parts to find out why the check engine light was on. We were staying in the upstairs of someone’s house for 43 bucks. It was a beautiful house and our accommodations were very nice. There was a list of specific instructions about what to do and what not to do. One thing was we were told to keep the cats out of the upstairs, but they were pretty sneaky, and they snuck in whenever they got the chance. At the time of our leaving, one was in the upstairs bedroom so I didn’t close the door tight when we left so he wouldn’t be stuck in there. 
     Saemee and I went downstairs, leaving the key on the bedside stand, but when I realized that the front door of the house doesn’t lock automatically I ran back up to grab the key so that I could lock it from the outside (it was a deadbolt) and then put the key in the little lockbox on the porch from whence I got it, but then when I left I was so preoccupied thinking about this interesting little lockbox and how to shut the key back up into it that I forgot to lock the dang door. I wouldn’t realize this till later when I would, after writing a doting review about our hosts, check the review that was left about us in which, perhaps very frustrated with finding his home unlocked, he also brought up the cats and my parking on the wrong side of the street the night before, which wasn’t illegal, but had blocked a truck that wanted to come through. He had brushed it off at the time in such a charming spirit of easygoingness, but included it in the review, likely do to my cardinal crime of leaving the door unlocked, which I will admit is pretty darn cardinal.

At the O’Reilly the clerk with his machine found that my diagnostic was a PO171 which means it could be the mass airflow sensor, or a vacuum leak or the oxygen sensor or several other things. 
     We drove to Waffle House for breakfast and there, on my phone, I found a local car shop with a five star rating and called them to see how much time and money it would take to get an estimate. I think the place may have been called Ambrosia. The guy was very easy to talk to and he seemed very honest. But from what he said about getting to the bottom of a PO171 code we wouldn’t have enough time to get it checked out before our 12:15 appointment to see the first house of the day.
The food at the wafflehouse was very good especially my cheesy scrambled eggs. Saemee got the hash browns and they were pretty good too, and we shared both. Our coffee mugs had those thick rounded rims and our waitress refilled them twice for us. 
     On my phone I researched the check engine code, and then went outside to talk on the phone with the guy from Ambrosia. So we were at the Waffle House for probably forty or fifty minutes and then we left.
We got in our car and I turned it on. Then I thought to go check under the hood myself on account of what I’d read doing a search about the PO171 code. Somebody had said something about, for vacuum leaks check all the tubes, so I went and opened the hood with the car running. Immediately I heard a hissing sound. Then I found the little stray tube that the sound was coming from. I secured its loose end into the little hole from which it had apparently escaped. Then I got back in the car. The check engine light was still on. I turned the car off. Saemee was on her phone. I got her attention and said “watch this watch this,” directing her to look to where the light hopefully would not appear when I started the engine. I turned the key. The car came alive, and the check engine light remained. 

Saemee and I then drove to find some park that she had found that was near where our first appointment would be. Following the Google Map navigation we ended up rolling down a road that cut through a golf course and dead ended at a country club. We turned around and drove out of there and found another park. It wasn’t glorious, but it was nice. 
     There was a little forest path that we walked through. The trees were still pretty barren since it was still just near the end of April. After we walked through the forest which took all of three minutes we took a stroll around a little path outside the forest by some friendly geese who left the sidewalk and waddled down a hill into the grass when they saw us coming. The sidewalk was speckled with goose poop. Saemee accidentally stepped in some. Later she made a drawing about it. Here it is.

      I tried to scrape what I could off with the tiny sharp end of a long stick attached to a big felled branch that was laying somewhere. I held Saemee’s foot up while she balanced on one leg. Then she switched legs and I did the same to the other shoe. That got some of it off, but there was still some on there. I thought from looking at it that there was a chance what we were scraping at was actually mud and I told Saemee that. Then I leaned in and smelled it and it definitely smelled like poop, and when I reacted it made Saemee laugh. Then we went to the car to get the water tissues. Saemee didn’t want to get in the car with her poopy shoes so I drove the car just a short ways toward the exit where there was a trash can. Saemee walked there. When she got to the trash can she took off her shoe, and I cleaned it. Then she put it back on and took off the other and I cleaned it. Then we drove to the house where we would meet the realtor.

I really wanted to make sure we were a little early, because 1: it’s good to be early to appointments. And there had been two appointments, so far, where we had arrived a few minutes late. And I hate to overly inconvenience these realtor folks because I’m not even sure how serious we are as buyers. We may not even buy a house this year. Supposedly it’s a sellers market which means there’s a lot of buyers and not a lot of houses. Me and Saemee have saved up a nice little chunk, but it’s not a whole whole lot, and I want to use it right. So we’re doing everything we can to educate ourselves about what’s out there. But I think realtors want you to pick one realtor and then have them show you everything.
     And 2: this realtor was kind of scary and we didn’t want to upset her further. She had called me out about my bouncing around between realtors when I asked her over the phone yesterday about possibly rescheduling. She asked if I wanted to reschedule because of other realtors that we were working with, and I admitted that that’s what it was and she gently chastised me explaining to me the way it works according to her. I conceded and canceled the other appointment because she had a few different houses she wanted to show us that we liked the looks of. I also sent her a link to the house whose appointment I canceled for her, but actually I didn’t think that particular meeting had been set in stone yet anyway. Saemee was positive that it was though.

When we arrived at the house we were ten minutes early, but she was already there, sitting in her car out front. We said our hellos. She apologized explaining that she usually likes to already be inside and have the house open and ready to show. She took us inside. This particular type of house was what she called a bungalow. And price-wise it was pretty feasible. Saemee and I looked around. 
Then she took us to the next house which was about ten thousand more and also quite a bit nicer, about the same size, and more furnished. 
At the third house, she struggled and struggled with the lock while Saemee and I took turns holding the screen door and signing to each other about other text messages and appointments coming together so she wouldn’t hear and get offended and “territorial.” This was the word she had used on the phone to describe how realtors tended to be. As I write this, I wonder now if this house which she was ultimately unable to get into was the one for the appointment that I had canceled.

Then we went to a duplex which had people in it. The place looked pretty run down. A little girl of about four came to the screen door. From the sidewalk our realtor called up to her, asking if her mommy was home. Her mom came and told us that the upstairs was unlocked and we all came under the impression that the upstairs was for sale but the downstairs wasn’t. Which seemed weird but also seemed to make sense, given how low the asking price was. We declined to see the upstairs and our realtor was perfectly fine with not going up the stairs and into this building which looked to be in pretty bad shape. 
     The three of us stood talking in the beautiful afternoon sunshine, there on the sidewalk. Talking about house buying and how it all works and what all you gotta do. We were about to part ways when something the girl’s mom said from the front porch made us all realize that indeed the whole house was for sale. So we went in and checked it out and it was in disrepair and full of life and smells, but Saemee and I were very kind and respectful to the tenants and they to us. Some of them were getting ready to go somewhere. There was a guy sitting in a pickup truck in the alley waiting for them. I nodded to him as I passed by and he nodded back.
     Saemee and I went to Kroger next and we actually ran into him again, standing by the checkout. We had come to Kroger in search of a Starbucks to charge the phone and ipad and to use the wifi while we waited for our next appointment at three. The Starbucks ended up being too minimal though.
     Starbucks was on the right side of the store, and on our way there we saw a couple of young men laughing about something, and I didn’t think anything of it, but Saemee later told me that she figured out when we went to the bathrooms (which were over on the left side of the Kroger) that our phone which she had been holding in her back pocket had the flashlight still on from when she had used it to check out the dingy basement of the duplex. And it was after checking out the Starbucks and before going to the bathroom that we passed the man from the pickup who said “hello again.” I didn’t recognize him, but Saemee did. On the way from the bathroom to the exit, this time I gave him a friendly smile and nod, and he responded in kind.

There was a Tim Hortons near the Kroger, and we drove over there and went in. We were able to charge our phone because there were outlets near the tables, but the wifi was pretty bad. We ordered an icecap and shared it. I called mom to talk to her about Saemee and I staying at her and my stepdad’s house for a short period of time. We’ve been staying at my brother’s but he recently learned that there are restrictions at is trailer park on extra people staying for more than a few days. Eventually Saemee got too cold in the Tim Hortons and left while I got ready to leave. I don’t remember what I was doing. Maybe Instagram.
From there we went to our three o’clock appointment which was a duplex. We’ve thought about duplexes because they could mean long term income if we can keep rent coming in. This one looked to be in a fairly nice area, but I did hear some loud sound followed by some man shouting something over near the busier road a couple houses down.
     I was excited to meet this realtor because on the phone I was struck by how friendly and especially how organized the guy seemed. Let’s say his name was Ed. Let’s say Ed Jones. Well Saemee and I waited around by the front door till it was 5 minutes after the appointment time and Ed Jones wasn’t here yet. Or maybe Ed wouldn’t come. Maybe it was his partner, Sally, that would come.
     On the realtor sign in the front lawn, one side said Sally Jones and the other said Bill Bakeman, but both sides had identical photos of the same man and woman. My thinking was that since I had spoken to Ed Jones on the phone and here was the name Sally Jones on this sign that this photo was very likely of the married realtor couple, Ed and Sally Jones. When Sally Jones finally showed up, and she was no more than seven minutes late, I asked her if her husband was Ed Jones, but there had been some misunderstanding and it turns out there is no Ed Jones. There is only Sally Jones and Bill Bakeman, and they are not married. 

Sally Jones was very cool and metropolitan, perhaps a little hyper, possibly on Adderall -- at the very least coffee.
     The duplex was an upstairs downstairs duplex with a tenant currently living on the bottom floor, and he was at work and had insisted that the realtor not come while he was home.  The place was pretty nice, especially for the price, except a closet door knob came off when Sally Jones tried to open it. It was one of those crystal door knobs. The house was built in the twenties. 
     After we left there we went to get food at a restaurant that had vegetarian pho. There was no one at the restaurant since it was only 3:30 or so. The pho was delicious. And it was here at the restaurant that I posted the airbnb review and learned that I’d left the house unlocked. I sent him a message apologizing.

The total bill for the pho was around eleven dollars. When we went to pay, Saemee gave me two twenties and told me “just ask for fifteen back” which scrambled my mind a little bit, because I was thinking if the pho was eleven and I’m giving them twenty and I get fifteen back, I’m only paying five dollars when the bill is eleven. But it was actually two twenties. That’s what threw me off. There’s something so symmetrical about two twenties that it still just seems like twenty. Saemee got a little frustrated with me for being stupid.

After this we headed to the library because our next appointment was at six and we had time. We parked in the underground garage. It ended up costing a dollar which I later paid at the validation machine.
     At the library we found a computer nook where we could plug the phone to charge into some out-of-service but fully turned on computers whose sole purpose had been for job searches. Saemee went to the bathroom and I browsed a bookshelf of automotive reference books while keeping in view our computer nook where our bags and belongings were. 
     After Saemee came back I headed out to explore the bookshelves. I brought back to our nook, first, for Saemee, though I knew she wouldn’t read it, a mildly interesting-looking Korean book that I found after briefly perusing the foreign books section. Next I went and got some books on learning Korean, and then I went searching to find a book with beautiful houses that Saemee and I might look at together, but to no avail. 
     What I did find were some real estate books, and I began in a book on financing. It held my interest. I learned a little about what are called “notes.” Then I had to poop pretty bad, but when I found the bathroom there were three stalls, all in use by old homeless men I think. I decided I ought to try to think about holding it because I might have to for a while. I asked the girl at the front desk, though, if there was another bathroom, and she said “there’s one on the third floor.” I went up there but it was locked. I went back to our nook and read but eventually ended up back at that first bathroom but this time the stalls were all empty. This was a pretty nice library, at least in terms of book selections, but the bathroom was pretty rough. I wiped the toilet down real good and then sat down, noticing as I did so some tiny portion of matter I missed on the inside ridge, but I didn’t get any on me luckily. While I was in there an old homeless man came in and took the stall to the left of me.

Shortly after returning to our nook we realized it was time to get going. We exited the library, took the elevator downstairs, walked past this little cafe, and then out into the parking lot. We got in our car and I started it up. After a moment I noticed it. Low and behold the check engine light had disappeared. I pointed it out to Saemee and she was very happy to see it too. I was very proud.

I began driving to the parking garage exit but then realized I forgot to get my ticket validated so I ran inside and did that then we were on our way, heading to our next and final appointment. It was at six o’clock. We rolled into the neighborhood which looked like a nice neighborhood as far as the quality of the houses and sidewalks, but immediately when we got there I saw a car whiz down the little street pretty fast so I made a mental note of it.
     The realtor was cool. He seemed intelligent and even-mannered. He could be my favorite so far. And we’ve met a lot. Not just today, but also a couple yesterday here in Toledo and a few down in Findlay before that. I really liked this place pretty well, and what’s more it was a triplex. The building was pretty old though. On the way back to Findlay Saemee said that she doesn’t want to buy a house that’s so old. I said “okay.” I think it was on the way home or perhaps before that last appointment, I called my brother Jon and talked about staying with him another night and he said it was fine and tonight they were having Bible study and I was welcome to come in at the halfway point since that was about when we’d be arriving. In the car Saemee seemed pretty exhausted. She said she was just exhausted in her brain. This was before she mentioned not wanting to get the triplex because of how old it was.

When we came in to Findlay I drove down Shinkle Street till we came to Rawson Park. And there was supposedly a house around here that had been listed as for sale, but we didn’t see it, but the reason I really came here was to go to the park with Saemee because it was a beautiful day that would soon be over. 
     I took our badminton rackets out from where they’d been sitting unused for about a year there in the back window and the yet unopened canister of birdies we had recently bought at Walmart. I opened it up and took out a birdie. With the two rackets in one hand and the birdie in the other we went walking. We went down a grassy field and we began trying to smack the birdie around on the little paved drive that leads to the baseball diamond. Then I said “let’s go play on the grass.” We crossed over to the nice flat grassy field where I and my family had spent time playing games before and where, further out, there was a park bench where me and my high school girlfriend of long ago had had a picnic or two. Today there was a young couple over past the picnic tables playing around and being in love.
     Saemee and I smacked the birdie.  If a volley is where one person serves it and then the other person hits it we were stuck at one volley for a while, but we once we got our rhythm going we managed to get up around ten volleys. One of the rackets had a very small hole in it but it didn't create an issue, and we did that there in the thick green grass of a gorgeous day, till my arms and legs felt like jello which was probably twenty minutes since I’m 34 and not fit, but it felt great.
     After that, we put the rackets in the car and then went and sat on the picnic bench that’s up by the little basketball hoop where an older kid was shooting around by himself. Saemee started taking some selfies of us. And then she handed the phone to me to take a few, and I tried to capture us with the sun flaring in from behind the trees. While in motion the images felt like a scene from out of The Tree of Life. I can’t speak for the still photos themselves because I haven’t looked at them yet.
When I was taking selfies I must have been not doing it correctly or something. I must have been taking that dreaded low angle shot that all women dread, but Saemee ducked out of the shot, but then I heard a little kid coming up behind us trying to get in on the action. I took a picture with him

and then he went off with his friends. Me and Saemee took some more of just us. Then we went to leave, and as we headed to the car some kid shouted “she wants to take a picture with you.” I said “does she have a camera.” They said “yeah.” I started walking over and Saemee came in behind. I said “can my wife get in the picture too,” and they said “yeah.” And we all took a picture together. Then me and Saemee walked to the car. I asked “Do you wanna get some icecream?” And she said “sure.” So we drove to the Archies that’s on the way to my brother’s house.

It seemed like it might be closing soon because it was about eight, but the day was beautiful and still very much alive, and it seemed like the perfect time when anyone in Findlay might want to go to Archies. We arrived. They would still be open for another hour yet. There were a few cars in line at the drive-through and there were a few people at the benches eating ice cream. We thought about what to get. Then we decided to get a single cone. I ordered one dipped in crunch. The girl who served me was very polite but all business. Our crunch cone was delicious. When we left there were cars lined up for the drive-through out into the road.
     I pulled onto main street. I went left, and though I’ve lived in Findlay most of my life I still wasn’t 100% sure that I was headed the right direction to go to center street, which is a primary road in my town that runs out East toward the big stores and where Jon lives. But as I continued I concluded that I had gone the wrong way so I turned around but later realized that I had it right the first time. I didn’t check Saemee’s face to see if she was becoming annoyed when I began turning the car around again. She started to ask me questions about which street we were headed to in order to plug it into the Google map which I found hilarious and ridiculous, but I knew she was serious. 
     When we arrived at my brother’s house there were two other cars parked there. When we opened the door and walked into the little trailer Bible study was still underway. I went to the bathroom and pooped again. Saemee sat in the dining room adjacent the living room where the Bible study was happening. Then I came back from the bathroom and sat with Saemee and listened to their discussion. It was about Mormons and Catholics and cannon. Then they concluded with Jon saying a prayer. After that one guy left, and a little while later the other guy. Jonathan and I joked around with him a little as he stood at the door before he went.

After they were gone I talked with my brother about the structure of the protestant church. And we were just chatting and relaxing there thinking about going to sleep.
      It was about 9:20 when Dad called Jon’s phone wanting to talk to me. He said he knows we’ve been getting to sleep early, but he asked if we could go pick him up some groceries from Walmart. He said his feet have gout. I told him sure. He described each item he needed in detail and I repeated it into our phone with Saemee holding it as it turned my spoken words into written gibberish. After we’d gotten it all down and I made sure I could decipher it Dad thanked me and told me he could reimburse us on Friday.  
We left the house and drove to the nearby Walmart silently. We went in and Saemee went to the produce department to grab a couple things that she needed and I headed out to the shelves to try and find Dad’s items. It was only a few things anyway and I found the first couple items, and then Saemee came with her tomatoes and cilantro and helped me find the rest.
     At the checkout I said to the man there “How’s your day goin?” and somewhat curtly he replied “fine, and yours,” and I said “fine.” He scanned items and bagged them. Saemee tried to tell me to tell him to keep her items in a separate bag and I told her “no that’s fine. We can sort it out ourself anyway, very easy.” 

After we had finished and were walking toward the exit I told Saemee “thank you for coming to Walmart with me.” And then she got mad about me not wanting to tell the guy to put it in separate bags or about me trying to keep her from telling the guy or maybe a combination of many things. We fought a little bit, but I didn’t lose my temper, but after that I didn’t talk though.
     We had to drive back downtown because that’s where dad lives. When we arrived Saemee stayed in the car while I crossed the street and jogged up the narrow flight of wooden stairs. Dad came to the door shortly after I knocked with a bright smile and thanked me. he told me he’d pay me Friday, but I told him it was our treat. Then I hugged him and said goodbye and left.

Silently we drove back to Jon’s. As soon as we got home I went and got in the shower. Toward the end of my shower, as has happened before in the past on occasion, I realized that I forgot to bring a towel. It was only my brother’s stinky old body-smelling towel hanging there, but after I turned the water off Saemee came in the bathroom and handed me our clean blue towel. I took it and she left. A moment later she came with some clothes and put them on the floor for me.
     I dried off, got dressed, then went and sat in Jon’s big comfy easy chair and started writing this. At the beginning of the story when I was talking about the deadbolt Saemee told me I need to do my nose thing. She’s referring to a saline wash that I use to keep my sinuses regular. I didn’t say anything though. I just kept writing. A couple pages in, my brother came and asked if I could turn the lamp off. I said “yes” and he turned it off for me and I sat in the dark for a moment. Then I came to the back room here and kept writing. At the point in the story when I was wiping the poop off Saemee’s shoe, she came in and asked what I was doing. She seemed like she wasn’t angry anymore. 
     Before, when I was over in the front room sitting in my brother’s chair under the lamp, writing, she was on the couch under a blanket on the iphone, and she probably assumed I was trying to logically elucidate why I was right and she was wrong. When she came to the back room and asked about what I was writing she probably still kind of had this notion, but I told her I was just writing about what happened in our day. She’s not terrific at reading English, but she watched over my shoulder a bit while I wrote and she probably recognized the word “poop” at least. Then she went back to the other room and likely went to bed and I’d say that was at least an hour and a half ago. Now I’m going to go to bed.

May 15 

     Many weeks have passed. The days have been windy and rainy for the most part. Not until the day before yesterday did it look anything like spring. And today looked quite a bit like summer. We went out to River Bend, me and Saemee. We tried to hit the birdie around to not much avail. There wasn't much wind at all, but there was an enormous hole in my racket and every time I swung it sounded like I was thrashing grain. And sometimes I'd manage to give the birdie a good whack only to find it lodged in my racket.

     River Bend is where we went. It's a little bit outside of town. It's quiet and pretty. It has hiking trails and a little lake to fish in. Saemee and I went on a hiking trail but a lot of it was too muddy.
     But that's what we went and did before our hair bleaching fiasco. Our plan has been to dye her hair pink for the longest time. And we want to do it ourselves. Mostly because it's cheaper. But she bleached her hair once at a friend's house probably eight months ago, but the roots have grown out black and we haven't cracked open the hair dye yet. 

      But now would be a pretty good time to do so because in a few weeks we'll be out drawing at the San Diego fair, and that particular fair company has no issue with unnatural colors, like some of the later fairs in the season do.
     But she and I bleached the roots today which is no easy task if you've never done it before. So now she's got some little black patches interwoven here and there because of me and we'll touch those up in a few days when her scalp is more leathery and resilient. But this is the point we came to after a few hours of marital stress and aggravation. And so now I know why I'd been putting it off. And any time on some spontaneous occasion in the past when I'd said let's dye your hair tonight she'd said no, and maybe she had done the same to me, and today I called her bluff to finally put an end to the matter. But really it's not as cynical as all that. And if I suspected it would mean preserving peace in our relationship I would disengage myself from all matters concerning her fashion, and I just may do that one day if it comes to it, but for now we are happily all too tangled up in each others' doings.

     It was just recently Mothers' Day. And it was Saemee's idea to go searching for a cheap vase and then spray paint it like some crafty thing she saw in a magazine. And so it was the day before yesterday which was the day before Mothers' Day that we went out early in the morning to look for a nice cheap vase at Walmart, but on the way we saw a sign for a garage sale and we followed it. And this was Saemee's very first garage sale in her whole life. And it was just the perfect Saturday for garage sailing. 
     I use to go on Saturdays with my grandma sometimes. I'd been wanting to go with Saemee, and now we had good reason since we had something to look for.

     The first garage sale was in a gorgeous neighborhood, but the pickings were pretty slim. Saemee did find a nice frame though, with a picture in it, and it was three dollars. And I thought momentarily but very seriously about buying The Sound and the Fury in paperback for fifty cents out of a box full of other high school reading requirements. But I decided against it. I do want very much to read a William Faulkner novel some time, and really pay attention. In art school I had to read As I Lay Dying, but I'm almost certain I didn't read much of it. If I remember any section it was some bit about someone laying dying, but that could have been another book.

     We left that garage sale and set the Google Map for Walmart, but then saw another sign for another garage sale and followed it into an even nicer neighborhood.  I mentioned offhand to Saemee while I was driving that the nicer neighborhoods' garage sales have nicer things for even cheaper prices. It seemed true and indeed it turned out to be.
     We pulled our car into this little roundabout and I parked as best I could parallel to a rounded curb, so tangent actually––well, but not touching of course.

     This turned out to be the mother load, as they say. Here we had two garage sales happening right beside each other. At the first one we found a lovely vase of the perfect size, a nice big round frame, and a couple of framed little Grandma Moses type paintings. I only bought one of them. The lady tried to talk me into both, but I had no need. But this little painting was perfect for the wall of my mom and step-dad's new home. And my plan was to paint a teeny tiny version of each of their faces on the little old-timey characters pictured therein.
      When we checked out the other garage sale we didn't really need anything at this point but still wanted to look. And at this garage sale there was an older woman who was more proactive in assisting us. So there was the middle aged married couple manning their register near the entrance of the garage, and then there was this older woman who was probably the mother of one of them, eager to help us find something to buy. And before I'd even expressed interest in anything she said something like "we can negotiate the prices too if need be." I smiled and said "ok." I felt a sense of regret for not negotiating at the other garage sales. At the other garage sales we'd already spent a total of six bucks or so, and so now we were here browsing this one, pretty much just because. And this old lady was trying to sell me a big old lamp that we had no conceivable use for in our home which is a Toyota. But we continued to nose around through a spacious garage sale in the classiest neighborhood in Findlay. I in my sweatpants and wearing a bright read shirt which said "beast" in bold black letters.

     Finally I found a great round sturdy mug with the face of the vintage Campbell's soup boy on it. It was in perfect shape. Jonathan, my brother, only had one mug at his house. So I looked at the mug and held it up. It was priced for a dollar. and I said "can you do fifty?" Grandma was a little reluctant. And I imagine I may have committed insult in  purchasing only this mug and nothing besides, and not for the sturdy dollar at which it was priced but at half off, and having these good folks fiddle with dirty coins, but Grandma said "ok."
     When mom rung me up and gave me my change for a five she accidentally gave me back $3.50. I pointed it out and she gave me the other dollar and Grandma was standing there doing the math in her head as me and Saemee went and looked around a little more and then left.

After that, we finally made it to Walmart and we got some textured spray paint, and then later, on a little cement patch out behind Jon's trailor we sprayed the vase. And after it was all the way dry, I used Saemee's nail polish remover to scrub down to the glass trough the paint with a q-tip and make a heart and a little Mothers' Day message.


That was our Springtime in Findlay. I got to spend a lot of time with my brother and learning about buying houses and investing. It was a lot of fun for me, but I think Saemee was pretty bored a lot of the time, but we're out in San Diego now. We're here to draw caricatures with The California Boys caricature company at the Delmar Fair. So we get to be with all my closest friends out here, and they're Saemee's friends too, and we all draw together and enjoy making each other laugh.