Every year the family gets together en mass to celebrate America's first Thanksgiving. We have built the tradition over the years of meeting at a certain relative's house and being fed and entertained in a certain way.

Some years we eat and watch football and then go for walks, because we ate too much. Some years we break out the ping pong tables and try to whip each other at bouncing a highly resilient plastic ball over a faux tennis court painted on a wooden table top.

But for as many years as I can remember, we have always played one game in particular, Dirty Bingo. This is a family-fun game that is a mix of a white elephant gift exchange and taking advantage of the opportunity to give your beloved relatives a hard time.

Often this game is a riot for younger children in the family, because the ordeal gives them an advantage over adults. Which they rarely have.  Each year we play we wrap up the most nefarious object we can find lying around our houses taking up room we can no longer spare. We have seen the range in our family. Everything from a brick, to soap, to toys, candy, and probably any other assortment of mischievous or endearing gifts.

It would not be Dirty Bingo without the classic bingo set. It's like playing the lottery. As the game caller you turn the hand crank of the ball, it magically produces a number and letter combination while churning and mixing variable combinations. At that critical moment you yell out the number and letter. If you want to have fun with it, you can include a bad pun when number and letter. I drew this to remember what fun it is to participate in this game. And of course I am making fun of the use of the ball, but one wonders what it would be used for during the rest of the year.

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I look forward to hearing how you spend this season with family and creatively.


Watercolor: King Of Paints

There are in fact few media that compare to the versatility of watercolor. It is not just versatile because it is a water-based media. It is versatile because there is little to transport. With oil paints and acrylic usually an easel is necessary. With watercolor you can easily set your watercolor board on your lap or a table or desk.

If you like chunky paint you can go to acrylic (which is cheaper than oil paint), gouache (though, technically a variation of watercolor), or oil paint (which is the king of chunky). But they all have there set backs. Though, you may not be able to carve or sculpt the paint like oil, create density like gouache, or have the quick-dry, easy-cover ability of acrylic; you can have a little of all three with less mess and perhaps less frustration.

I am not necessarily expecting any converts here. Everybody is inclined to their own opinions on what media best suits them. Believe me, I have left out a lot of other media. I have left out, especially dry media-pencils, pastels, chalk, and many others. I enjoy them all. But watercolor does give a lot back. It is forgiving in the layering area, but unforgiving in subtraction. It works well when thrown in the mixed media pool, but it can stand alone. Though, it is easier to be more expressive, it also permits rigidness for portraiture and technical paintings. In fact, as a media it is embraced equally by commercial and fine artists. Though, I am sure neither party agrees on what the other truly is.

The challenge of the week is to try watercolor. If it is your first time, you can be bold and try something abstract. But there is no shame in picking up a book or magazine on the subject. From time to time, I still do and I have been at it for 10 years. It is a great way to learn new processes. When you take my challenge please post it on your blog, website, or portfolio site and send me a link. I would like to see it.

Come back next week for STORYTIME.


My Enchanted Sketchpad

Gangly Tree
My sketchpad is enchanted. It permits me to see into the window of the past or into a window of the future. Sometimes both simultaneously. I have talked about the pleasure I get out of documenting my experiences in the past, but I consider any thing that retains the nature of reality to be mystic in a sense.

Even the prophet Isaiah reinforces this:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
   or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
   or weighed the mountains on the scales
   and the hills in a balance... Isaiah 40:12

Anything that is the product of the Creator (God) is truly supernatural. Can we explain the awe and wonder that nature gives us. How light and darkness interplay to give us forms we cannot perfectly duplicate. Use what you see around you to inspire your work. Because we cannot create anything new, everything is open to be reinterpreted and learned from.

Next week, find out why watercolor is the king of painting materials.


Shadows Made of Syrup

Leaves & Their Shadows
The syrupy shadows of Ohio's fall create a mood and emotion unlike anywhere else I have experienced. The thought of walking through a wooded area in Ohio or Indiana produces a mystic nostalgia for me. The colors of trees lit by the sun are so vibrant I feel as if I am on another planet or partaking in some medieval dream land. Such dream lands that are brought to life through King Arthur or tales of chivalry.

When you sit down to conceive your dream do you think in color and three dimensions? Do you participate with your idea? Do you go down that path as if it were a walk through the forest or along a beach?

It's conceivable that your pad and pen are enchanted. Find out more next week.