A Weekend, A Sketch

Long weekends don’t mean too much to me, generally; I always have Mondays off. Brother came up from Massachusetts on Friday evening, though, and stayed with me and Brackett through yesterday. We checked out the newly renovated Dogfish Bar and Grill for lunch yesterday (I can recommend the 128 Free Street Sandwich) and then Brother and Brackett picked up some vinyl and a few Super Nintendo games at the Electrcic Buddhas nostalgia shop around the corner. They proceeded to beat Goof Troop in under two hours—a game that had seemed impossibly difficult when I was a child. Brother headed up to our parents house yesterday evening, and I’m following in a few hours. Sadly, I have to return my mother’s car. It was easier for her to leave the vehicle with me last weekend than for us to figure out the logistics of her and my father dropping me and another friend off in Portland on their way home from the retreat in separate cars in time for a scheduled event back home. It’s been really nice having wheels for a few days.

I can’t share the painting I was telling you about last weekend yet. I’m really happy with how that’s turning out, but it’s not quite done. My week was subsumed by another worthy project (yes I did make art during the week this week, though it was for a different purpose [an exciting one!] than my usual stuff) so I haven’t made too much more headway on that painting or my other digital art. I did make a sketch yesterday that I finished today, though, so I’m sharing that instead. I’m working on an illustration for the picnic scene in Chapter 4 (Wanderlust Chapter 4: City of Shadows) and right now I’m planning where everyone’s sitting and what they’re doing. I’m hoping to round up some friends to shoot reference photos this week (friends in Portland: I need about two more models for a picnic scene—let me know if you want to help!), so it will be good to know what poses I’m looking for ahead of time. I’m thinking Vanya will be in the background of the scene taking a swig of his drink. I realized I’d never drawn that before, so I did the following sketch as a study, using some stock photos as reference.

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 10.42.29 AM

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Summertime

Blog! Hi, Blog! Hello!

I have just eaten a tomato, sliced, with salt and olive oil. It was delicious. I bought it at Trader Joe’s the other night, along with zucchini and summer squash and prosciutto pasta. I pronounced prosciutto “pro-skwee-to” (it’s “pro-shoo-to,” for anyone who doesn’t know) while advertising what was on for dinner, and my dinner guest laughed at me. A lot. In my defense, I was raised by vegetarians. I was eighteen before I even tried steak!

It’s summer in a beautiful city, and life has been moving at a very fast pace. The social life thing has sort of exploded, due in large part to existing friends and connections and also to that beautiful thing called Happy Hour. I’ve become a responsible person with a job, and most of my friends also have jobs and responsible things to do in the morning, and so we’ve discovered that meeting up in the afternoon, right after work and well before bedtime, is the perfect way to hang out. Who knew?

Also, I have a new job. It’s a part-time cleaning position at a furniture warehouse, ten hours a week, and it fits perfectly into my existing schedule with RTP. Seriously, I can come in for five hours each on my two days off, and I still have weekends free. It’s not a whole lot of money or anything, but it’s exactly what I needed to pay off a few bills and generally be a lot more comfortable in my money situation… which will lead to a lot less stress in general. Yay!

And that’s what’s been going on. Nevada is leaving next week, and we have a new roommate moving in. We met her once, and I think she’ll be nice! I’m getting more comfortable at my bus-driving job, and the various components of it are becoming a little more routine. I’ve even been singing again; last weekend I joined my guitar-playing friend Tim and some other excellent folks for a gig back home, and on Wednesday Tim came to Portland for an open mic. Brackett finally got to hear us play! I have plans with friends in a couple hours, and I’m wondering if there’s any way I can get to the beach tomorrow, since I haven’t been in a body of water in a whole week.

To conclude: Life is busy, and good.

Also, Maine is beautiful.

Also, Maine is beautiful.

The Mumford Concert (and Where We Are Today)

I am tired! It all started this Saturday, when I went to see Mumford and Sons in concert at the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Portland, Maine. It was a one-day festival with eight musical acts playing on alternating stages through the course of the day, culminating with a Mumford and Sons performance just after dusk. Here’s a real nice article about the festival and the band’s experience in Portland (Rolling Stones Article). Portland is the closest city-shaped thing to where I’m living now, so I’m starting to really appreciate it myself. The Eastern Promenade was a beautiful place for a festival; the stages were framed by a backdrop of ocean, sailboats, and gulls.

I spent most of the day on my feet. I could have camped near the beer tent with some friends-of-a-friend, but after one beer I was already getting antsy. I don’t go to concerts very often, and this would be one to remember forever. I wanted to be near the bands. I think Dawes, Apache Relay, and The Maccabees were some of my favorites, aside from Mumford and Sons. When it was finally time for the leading act I managed to worm myself up to within 20 feet of the stage; close enough to see their facial expressions if I squinted my eyes.

There was one moment when I thought maybe it wasn’t worth it, when someone’s tall head blocked my view and my back and legs ached from standing for so long (I’d secured my spot during the previous act) and thoughts of my discomfort outweighed my enjoyment of the music—but then someone moved to the side and a window opened up clear to the stage, and the dusty blue sky deepened on towards night, and the stage lights shone white and indigo, and Marcus Mumford’s voice sang out over the crowd, and it was all a bit of concert magic. Suddenly I had the adrenaline I needed to jump and scream and truly experience the rest of the night.

Are you aware of Mumford and Sons? I suggest you give them a listen, if you haven’t heard of them and if folk-rock sounds like a thing you’d enjoy. There’s something about the vocals and melody that really resonates with me, and I went through a period of about a month last fall where I could only draw while listening to Mumford and Sons. Here’s a digital painting that came out of that time (yeah, I know the figures need some work):

Anyway, after the concert and subsequent night out on the town I went back to work on Monday and Tuesday, and the soreness of all that dancing combined with the rigors of painting and climbing ladders and biking three miles uphill to work left me physically exhausted—I’ve taken two long soaking baths in as many days. Last night I had planned to set aside time for writing, but then I got a call from a guitar-playing friend asking if I wanted to join him in singing for an ice-cream social, which sounded like too much fun to pass up. We would have sounded better if we’d practiced the songs beforehand, but we had a good time, and it was a family type event where a few wrong notes were easily forgiven. Even more fun, we are planning to actually practice a few songs for an open mic this friday!

So where, in all these fun music-times, is Wanderlust? Well—it’s burning at me. It’s sitting just behind my eyelids, begging for attention. I thought maybe I’d work backwards through the manuscript and add in some bits and pieces before going back to the beginning for a re-haul, but after the concert this weekend I’m anxious to spend some time on Chapter One, which contains a rock concert. Suddenly it seems like a good idea to start from the beginning and go all the way through, fix as much as I can, and see how the end sits, and whether it’s worthy. I have at least the morning off today, and after writing this blog post I think I’m warmed up. Time to get to it!