Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art modeling is a really undervalued skill-set

I went to Jazz & Sketch last night with didactictrash and the models were completely super awesome. The only disappointment was that I somehow managed to forget my ink supplies so I only had pencil to work with. The poses were interesting, the models didn't look bored or put upon.

Something else I've noticed is that I sometimes have real difficulty with the 10 minute poses. The 2 minute and 5 minute poses are great for quick sketches, and the 20 minutes are perfect for longer studies, but the 10 minute ones tend to make me clench. Hm.

The Nietzche Family Circus

I've been trying all day to achieve the right tone for what is probably my least anticipated blog post ever, but in the mean time I felt like I had to share my new favorite website: The Nietzche Family Circus!

I've had it open in a window all week and it's given me much unalloyed joy.

For out of fear and need each religion is born, creeping into existence on the byways of reason.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Max Quarterhorse, and some thoughts on comics and plays

Robert Attenweiler (pictured left), author of ...and we all wore leather pants, has just done something I've been meaning to do forever, i.e. he's posted a graphic novel version of one of his plays. Now, whether it's the "first ever Independent Theater-to-comics crossover" I kind of doubt*, but I'm a fan of hyperbole, so I'll let it slide.

The first five pages of The Adventures of Max Quarterhorse are up, and it's pretty freaking great. I really like illustrator, Miriam Gibson's drawings - I'm curious how much of it was drawn straight into the computer. I spent a ridiculous amount of time this morning reading the Tapir Tooth blog, which from the sparse information provided, I gather is a collective of illustrators and sequential artists she co-founded.

It's pretty deeply strange to me that there isn't more overlap between writing for theater and writing for comics as the skill set is so similar. Off-hand, aside from Robert, I can only think of one or two people who do both. I originally envisioned Lucy Troma as a graphic novel. The idea of doing that many drawings was entirely too daunting, although I haven't completely abandoned the idea.

Another thought I had - does anyone else besides me like the idea of published plays being done in graphic form? I'm such a bad playwright, I hate reading plays, but if they were in comic form they would suddenly be so much more exciting - and likely would sell much better, too.

* I began working on the second incarnation of Antarctica after working for a few months on the graphic version. I've had lots of it posted on Facebook for a couple of years.

(image: Miriam Gibson via

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Post-FringeNYC: Viral

Just a quick note about Mac Rogers's show Viral. See it!

He wrote the truly wonderful Universal Robots that was included in the same Plays & Playwrights anthology as Antarctica. I don't say this a lot about my contemporaries, but he can really fucking write. His dialogue is magnificent. His ideas are creepy and weird without any sort of overplaying of his hand.

It's about three people who are sexually aroused by watching people die - not by watching violence, but by watching the life-force leave the body. It reminded me a bit of J.G. Ballard's Crash, a serious examination of a sexual fetish that I'm not entirely sure exists and is the blackest of black comedies. The acting is just lovely too, Rebecca Comtois (pictured above, with Kent Meister and Matthew Trumbull) particularly stood out to me.

Note to Manhattan Theater Club and Playwrights Horizons: many of the plays you've been producing in recent years have been embarrassingly bad. Really. There are other American playwrights besides Itamar Moses and Christopher Shin. Promise.

Gideon Productions
The Soho Playhouse
15 Vandam Street
Sunday, September 27, 6pm

(photo: via


Sorry for spewing highlights from my sketchbooks all over this blog recently. Maybe it's the political climate or maybe it's the actual weather, but words have not been my friends recently.

But isn't that a lovely tree?

Do you think drawing people on the subway is invasive?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Painting with watercolor is like carving in stone

The title of this post is pretty much the summation of what I've learned about painting with watercolor. You cannot screw up because you can't fix anything. I'm used to that because of pen and ink, and it's kind of exhilarating, actually. But pen and ink is much easier to clean up in photoshop as there aren't those textural issues that seem so integral to watercolor.

There is also some ink wash above, in addition to the watercolor, I found these really fantastic French inks that have a gorgeous color (the Higgins colors tend to look a little washed out, though I am still a Black Magic fan), but need to be watered down slightly for use in fine pen nibs. I've been using the same pen nib for years - I have a reserve of several dozen so I should be okay for a while if they become impossible to find.

I'm doing a damaged little girls and squid series. The above painting isn't entirely finished, but I thought I would post anyway.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Post-FringeNYC: His Greatness

I've seen an awful lot of theater over my 40 years, but I just realized when sitting down to write this, that I've only ever seen one or two Tennessee Williams plays performed on stage, and I don't know that I've ever seen him done particularly well. I've seen the movies, though, like everybody else, with poor, crazy Vivian Leigh playing poor, crazy Blanche DuBois and Brando and Newman and Taylor. Maybe modern actors aren't up to Williams, or maybe they're just not right for his plays. Maybe you need beautiful, serious actors with movie star charisma and speaking voices from earlier in the 20th Century. People sound so different in the aughts of the twenty-first century than they did in the mid-twentieth. Whatever the answer, the world has changed and Williams is a little out of fashion.

I saw Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor's play His Greatness Saturday afternoon at the Soho Playhouse, where it has one performance left as a part of The FringeNYC Encore series. It shows a couple of days in the last years of (unnamed) Tennessee Williams's life. His life has become a sodden, sordid drunken mess. He is attended to by his fortyish assistant a former lover and rent boy, who now acts as Williams's secretary, nursemaid and procurer. The action takes place in a sad, mid-range hotel room in Vancouver, where one of Williams's unsuccessful late plays is being produced. The relationship between these two men, like many bad marriages, is both funny and sad.

This isn't usually my sort of play, and having seen four or five Daniel MacIvor shows over the past ten years or so, it isn't his usual play either. It was such a regular play compared to Never Swim Alone or Beautiful view. I've also sort of decided at some point that I don't care about plays or movies if they don't include and girls. About halfway through I realized, "Oh! This is Daniel MacIvor doing his own version of a Tennessee Williams play." And then it all made sense to me. It's really well done and totally worth checking out.

His Greatness
Soho Playhouse
Fri. September 25, 7pm

Friday, September 18, 2009

Select Image, Scan With Right Hemisphere, Draw

Your brain is likely very different from my brain, but my brain is happiest, I've found, when I spend a significant amount of time focusing on pictures rather than words. I've started working on a project combining words and pictures that I don't want to say very much about yet, but I will likely be posting bits of it here in the coming weeks.

I've said before, that I'm terribly rusty. I used to draw all day, every day (it was the only possible way I could have gotten through school), but now that I am no longer held captive with a pen in my hand, drawing seems to have fallen by the wayside. God, I am rusty as hell.

I've posted some quick sketches I've done over the past couple of weeks. My brain is much happier and now I must get busy with my own work. Whee! By the way, the busty blonde below is The World Famous Bob.

Wiemar Germany Was a Very Small World

A couple of weeks ago I offhandedly wondered if Lilia Skala knew Hedy Lamarr as they both worked with Max Reinhardt at about the same time. I received the following answer from Libby Skala (Lilia's granddaughter) via facebook:

By the way, both sisters - Lilia and Lisl knew Hedy Lamarr in Vienna as Hedy Kiesler, says Grace, Lisl's daughter. Also, I remember my grandmother saying she was playing Hedy Lamarr's mother in a Viennese stage production when a Hollywood scout came back stage after the show and said he wanted to bring Hedy to Hollywood. Thus began her film career.

I think if I ever write my Hedy Lamarr magnum opus, the Skala sisters will have to make cameo appearances.

(photo: Lilia Skala, Austria, 1930 via

Other People's Art

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon wandering around Chelsea popping in and out of galleries looking at art. It's always fun, but I was generally underwhelmed.

Rita Lundqvist's paintings are fun to look at, they have these sort of blank comic book-like figures painted on dark, empty, textile fields. I like how they looked, and maybe I'm permanently in search of a context, or of some kind of narrative, but without context they seemed a little lost and sterile. I feel as if I had one hanging in my house I would get tired of looking at it.

Carla Klein's show was in the same gallery, and I was much more impressed with it. I loved her really modern, car oriented vision of landscape. Her paintings are dark and moody and quiet, landscapes as seen through a windshield or at night. She uses a really limited palette that is full of blues and grays and feel like thunder.

Both are at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and run through October 24.

I also saw the new Kara Walker exhibit, and I feel like a total Grinch, but I wasn't in love. When I first saw her black and white paper cut-outs my mind was well and truly blown. I really liked the white on white painting/collage (sorry, the catalog is not online), and the 3D paper works, but the video didn't work for me. It seemed oddly half-assed, the story was moving and the shadow puppets were exquisite, but the filming was sloppy and she perhaps could have used a little dramaturgical help. Her still images are so sharp, they could cut glass - here the effect was muted, fuzzy around the edges. I don't think there is much I can say about her work that hasn't been said a hundred times, her work is glorious and shocking and, I think, necessary.

Her show runs through October 17 at Sikkema Kenkins & Co.

(image: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery)