Recently, I read the book A Witch in the Family, by Stephen Hawley Martin. This book started off with a strong likable narrative voice telling an in-depth account of the Salem witch trials. Martin expertly tied together the different factors that led to the Salem hysteria; from introducing the political climate of the times, to the persecution the Puritans suffered, to the mental stress they were put under by their own religion. His analysis of all of the different factors, combined with his own, created a very engaging read.
However, once you reach the last third of the book the experience completely changes. If you are a person who believes in the metaphysical and the power of faith you will love his theological musings. If, like me, you we reading the book for some insight into the witch trials the last ten pages are not worth reading. With the sudden switch of focus at the end you realize that the witch trials was simply his way of leading into the spiritual ideas he wanted to share. It's also not very comforting when the researcher of these spiritual beliefs admits that Googling something was a common method for finding information...
All in all I enjoyed the first half of the book and barely made it through the end. So I give A Witch in the Family a 5 out of 10.
If you do happen to want a read of this book you can find it on Amazon.
This doodle a day project has really been motivating me to want to focus on my development as an artist. So This Sunday I took a little trip on over to Gillette Castle in East Haddam.
It was beautiful, The grounds are all very well tended and the castle itself? Stunning. I love the detail the architect and builders put into every bit of the project. The stone pathway winds through the estate with solidly build walls and jagged decorative bits on top. The castle itself was overwhelming. Every window grinned with stone overhangs, the porch lights were a mosaic of broken glass, and ivy delicately crawled up parts of the building. The castle was so fantastic (in the traditional sense of the word) and yet felt so connected to the surrounding Forrest.
So, feeling daunted by the majesty of the actual castle I decided to sketch the pavilion that was a short way down the hill from it. I set up shop on the grass and started sketching away. For a good two hours or so I enjoyed in the warmth of the sun and and the chatter of the tourists and sketched away. It was totally the best afternoon I had for myself in quite a while.
I can't wait to return and take on that beast of a castle.
I've learned a lot about Middletown already, based on the various tourist signs placed strategically around town. (Thank you to whomever put the work into those). I've learned that Middletown has been around since before the revolution and has gone through it's ebbs and flows of prosperous times and hard ones. It's most prosperous was before the Revolutionary war when they were one of the main ports in the Colonies. Then when the war happened the town struggled until the industrial revolution hit and factories sprang up all along the river. Along came machines goodbye went the jobs. Middletown is now redefining itself with restaurants and art. Main street (on the North End) is a menagerie of amazing restaurants. From diner food, to fine Italian, to coffee shops featuring music and local art there's an option for everyone.
Now, to the doodle. Along with old towns come old graveyards. I love to visit graveyards-- strange sure, but let me explain. I love feeling connected to my past and the quiet calm that is somehow always enclosed in them. Even the one I visited in Middletown [it was right next to a busy roadway and an active railway] Still quiet and beautiful. And gravestones are so fascinating- from the carvings to the typography to the wear of the stone; love 'em.
This sketch is not an exact replica of any gravestone, more a compilation of several with features that stood out in my memory. On the next day that isn't raining, I totally want to go back and do some real sketching.
I recently met the most amazing artist. His name is Krikko, also known as Gregory "Krikko" Obbott and he does pencil drawings of famous cities. Pencil drawings of famous cities that are two and a half stories tall and fifteen feet wide. with details right down to the people walking on the street. I walked into the Krikko pencil drawing museum in New Haven (CT) and was stunned by the art that met me. There where 2 of his giant works on display and quite a few "smaller" ones.
Krikko is a Nigerian-American Artist/Architect who lives and works mostly in New Haven CT.
One of his most well known pieces is "Super Big Apple" which is a 15'x20' pencil drawing of Manhattan.
The patience and passion this man has is completely awe inspiring. While I was visiting the museum (also his home) I got to speak to him. And the one thing that really hit me was his exuberance for his work. He has a bedroom right next to his studio and he never uses it. He normally just sleeps on the couch in front of his desk so that as soon as he awakes he can pop right up and keep working. I so wish I had that kind of passion behind my work. I feel like I let the necessities of life get in my way faaaar too often.
"Super Big Apple" pencil on paper, 15' by 20'.
This picture took him a little over 2 years to create. 2 years! I get frustrated if I spend more than 2 days working on one piece.
Today's sketch was inspired by my wedding dress research. I'm thinking a 50's style cut would be nice. :) And as I drew, it twisted into what I am now going to call "Grey Alice." Pencil, Colored Pencil, watercolor-pencil, and marker on paper.
A doodle in honor of my other goal for the summer: learning to speak Italian. Not a completely random goal, I promise. Next year when Alexander and I go on our honeymoon we're going to Italy and I will be meeting his huge extended family. I am determined to not need a translator on the trip.
As if I didn't have enough to keep up with I have come up with a new project to keep me busy. I call it "Doodle-a-day."
Pretty self explanatory, however; the plan is to do one piece of art (that is not work related) every day for the next 365 days. Most will be done in the 10 or 15 minutes I spend waking up with my cup of coffee. Others,like on weekends I'll try to take a little more time to do it. I've seen it done in photography, but have yet to find a fellow doodler. I'm sure there's a reason for that, but I am determined to try my hand at it. So; dear reader, wish me luck! And I hope you enjoy the journey.