Xmas Bah Humbug

Lonnie's Xmas Tree Portrait

Every year since I separated from my children my distain for the year end holidays has grown. I have fond memories of Christmas with my children in Portland, Oregon when they were growing up and still believed in Santa Clause.  Now that they are teen and adult ages the pretense of playing Santa is long gone. Now the only joy that look forward to during the year end holidays is that a critical computer or network system does not fail during the break so I can just chill.

That all changed in 2010 however.  No I did not have the Ebenezer Scrooge experience and get visited by three ghosts.  Nor did I have a Miracle on 34th Street and meet a real Santa Clause. What happened was the Nor’ Easter Blizzard of 2010 that dumped 32 inches of snow on New York and New Jersey. This snow storm may have inconvenienced the locals, but for me it was as relaxing as a hot bath after a hard days work.  During the storm I was fortunate to have a good Internet connection and I was staying in a bed and breakfast in a historic mansion in Plainfield, New Jersey.  All of this made the perfect storm for relaxing for me.

As you can see from the image in this post I was in the presence of a Christmas tree for several hours.  I had reached my tolerance for Christmas music and the hosts at the B&B said I could change the music.  I wondered over to the 5 disc CD changer and put on some Wynton Marsalis, John Lee Hooker and other jazz world beat music.  After that I set myself down in a chair and started to draw items in the room on my iPAD. I was really glad that I could remember how a Sony 5 disc CD player worked.  I use to have one of these, but over the last 5 years I have listened to music exclusively using my satellite radio, computer, iPAD or iPod. It is hard to believe that I use to own vinyl records.

ornate Pillars2 wall decoration

The drawings that I started doing on the iPAD were generated using an application called Scribbler-HD. I use to do a lot of sketching on the fly with a pen and paper.  As a graphic artist it is expected that you do this (or at least that is what I was taught in the last century). I decided to try something new and use my iPAD as a sketching device.  I got inspiration from objects in the sitting room in the B&B. Here I was stuck in a B&B which I perviously said that I would never go to, using an iPAD which I previously said I would never find useful, really relaxing during a snow storm.

During this snow storm I also configured another iPAD application to work.  I had purchased Wyes Pocket Cloud but never found time to get it working.  Well during this storm I downloaded the applet onto the Mac and PC side of my laptop.  I left my laptop running in my room on the third floor of the B&B and from my iPAD I logged in.  I also took the time to get VPN working on my iPAD using some decrypt tools.  Now I can access my work network from the iPAD and do server management.

So this holiday break the Xmas sprit was late in getting around to me, but it finally got me going.  I am not sure if this will happen again, but I will never forget this holiday break, the Blizzard of 2010.

Year End Holiday in Plainfield NJ

What a wonderful surprise to be visiting my sister in New Jersey. Today it started snowing and the landscape is all covered in white.  I have not been in snow like this in a long time.  I am also staying in a bead and breakfast (B&B) for the first time.  My wife Sylvia has tried to get me to experience a B&B and I have always refused. Boy was I missing out.

We are staying just about a mile from my sister’s house at the Pillars 2 B&B. The host LaMonte and Nancy are really great.  Tonight Nancy provided us with homemade cookies, homemade marshmallows in hot chocolate.

We have also enjoyed walking around the neighborhood looking at historical homes. Some of the homes are in great shape for their age.  At one time Plainfield was the full of millionaires who worked on Wall Street in New York.  The population has changed over the years but there are still some amazing homes still standing.

Tonight my sister, Deborah, fixed a wonderful dinner and delivered to us in the snow. I am usually such a cynic when it comes to holidays, but this year it seems that there were a lot of things that melted my stone cold heart.

Nubian Diamond Dawg Flower Child

Nubian Flower Child circa 1980
Nubian Flower Child circa 1980

So where did this drawing come from? Well for this drawing I got the inspiration from a drawing for my comic book that I drew in 1980. I do not know why I have a fascination with drawing portraits with my bizarre hippie trippie style.  When I started drawing this image I thought that I was drawing a woman.  As I now look at the finished work it sort of looks like a man.  A lot of my drawings start out one way and end up another way.

I am a very moody person and my drawings reflect the way I am feeling.  On one level my art conveys my emotional state during the time that I am working on the drawing. For example when I draw portraits that are smiling, I am happy and when I draw portraits with a sad look, I am sad.  So this drawing the Nubian Flower Child has a dazed look.  This is how I felt during the course of creating this drawing.  The end of the year is always a time for me to tune out and try to duck all of the Christmas chaos that everyone seems to get. What is the Christmas sprit? Is it a good feeling or a bad feeling? For me it is just a feeling that sort or radiates all year. The drawing has an aura of diamonds with a blue glow around the face of the Nubian.

The Diamond Dawg reference is to David Bowie’s album Diamond Dogs. I spell dogs dawgs because I live in Georgia since 1/11/2010. There are so many Georgia State logos all over with the Bulldog so I decided to spell it the same way.  I love David Bowie’s music so when I think about Ziggy Stardust and the Spider’s from Mars my mind always wondered how the words to his music would look.  A lot of my drawings are influenced by music.

Nubian Diamond Dwag Flower Child
Nubian Diamond Dwag Flower Child

So what does a diamond dawg look like.  Well in my world an afro hair-do with diamonds and a face with long bull dog jowls. Most of the time my art is a mashup of lots of things that are rolling around in my head.

This drawing took about 18 days with 5 to 7 hours of work in the evenings while watching Netflix.  I am in the middle of season three, the final season of Veronica Mars.  I discovered this series about two months ago.  My last two drawings were done watching this series.  The Veronica Mars storyline takes place in a town and highschool similar to the one that I went to.  I went to La Jolla High in San Diego.  Veronica Mars went to Neptune High in Balboa County.  I love watching TV series that were filmed oin southern California where I grew up.  I can spot places in southern California in scenes where I have been.  I always enjoy trying to figure where stuff is or which beach they are really at.

Hilton Head Purple Haze

Ala Bindah
Ala Bindah 1980

I completed another drawing last night. I worked on this mostly over the Thanksgiving break when I was in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I decided to take a break from the O Magazine beauty ads and draw something from an old sketch book. The inspiration for this sketch came from a sketch that I drew in December 1980 thirty years ago. The sketchbook is filled with drawings for a cartoon or comic book that I call The Zulu Aqua Mareens (ZAM). Zulu because they are colored purple. Aqua because they are fluid surfers. Mareens because they can do anything.

The story behind the title is what I did with Sylvia when we were up relaxing at Hilton Head.  The Purple Haze reference is to remember the fact that we got sucked into a vacation time share scam.  All of my life I have avoided going to time share presentations. During my visit to Hilton Head my guard was down, hence the Purple Haze reference, and I allowed myself to believe that a time share was a good idea. fortunately we avoided a long commitment and bailed out of the deal. I will never go to another time share dog and pony show again.

Ala Bindah
Ala Bindah 2010

The 30 year old sketch was an inspiration for this drawing so it allowed me to bridge memories of what I was doing way back when and channel it to my present place. I was somewhere between migrating away from the Unification Church and working in a print shop called We Love to Print.  I met Randy Hollar at this print shop.  Randy Hollar was the artist that created the characters for the Fat Albert cartoon. I consider Randy my artistic mentor who taught me print technology and helped me improve my graphic art skills. It was while I was working at this print shop that I started to define the characters for a comic book that I started to conceive when I was attending San diego State College.  The ZAM are a band of hippie surfers. I do not know if I will ever complete the story, but for now I may plan on drawing the characters in color using illustration board and Prisma colors.

One of the most memorable experiences that I had while drawing this picture was when I was at Hilton Head Island. On November 26, 2010 it was a balmy 80 degrees.  I took my drawing board, portfolio and pencils and went to the beach.  I sat for about three house and drank in the sun, sand and sounds of the surf as I drew.  I had not spent time on a beach drawing in a long time.  I use to do it a lot when I lived in San Diego, Venice and Santa Monica California.  This was the most relaxing Thanksgiving in my entire life.