Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 10


SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, Part 2

After dinner, Lolly and I went to the nearby dog park to walk Sheila.
The dog park is about a mile from our house, surrounded by nearby housing development and University of Alaska land. Very woodsy; one has to watch out for moose, and on occasion, brown bears. The dog park itself is built around a gravel pit that has been turned into a small L-shaped lake surrounded by trails and, on parts, a dirt road. In the middle of the lake is a small island with trees and a beaver lodge built nearby. The beavers have been known to attack dogs that swim in the lake.
The dog park was crowded with humans and their canine partners, most off the leash but some on. And a stray cyclist. Lolly put Sheila on the leash as the errant human passed. If it had been me, or if I had been there without Lolly, I would have let Sheila stay free. It’s a dog park, darn it. If the jerk wants to crash our turf, he does so at his own peril as far as I’m concerned.
Sunday evening was our second outing at the park; the first was on Wednesday. On Wednesday, we strolled alongside a middle-aged woman and her lab/rotweiller mix puppy. He was about Sheila’s height but longer, and faster. Sheila was more agile, avoiding the lab, stopping and turning on a dime, letting him fly past her, and stop, waiting for him to check his puppy momentum and turn back in her direction. A couple times they wore each other out and would stand there panting, or trotting slowly to keep pace with their humans. It was highly amusing to watch.
On Sunday, all the dogs seemed to be traveling in the opposite direction, except for some occasional jogger/dog combos. Sheila kept herself busy, charging up and down hills, in and out of the forest like a hyper- active bat out of hell. Unlike Wednesday night, she didn’t seem to tire ever. Lolly remarked on this; perhaps it was a side effect of the chocolate that will or Carrie had left within Sheila’s reach on the arm of the couch (Carrie reported on Saturday).
Sheila had been hyper and demanding of attention all day. She would stand by me as I was sketching and stare at me, whining plaintively. In the morning, it had worked. Assuming she to do her doggie business, I took for a short walk outdoors. She only wanted to explore. Back inside, she goaded me into playing with her by throwing her stuffed squirrel across the length of the narrow downstairs hallway to our childhood bedrooms (this is the house we grew up in). Lolly ignored us; she had set up her home office in what used to be our rec room at one end of the hallway. She was preparing for the upcoming school year, reading and taking notes on a new math textbook. Lolly runs the math department at Chugiak High, 20 minutes outside of Anchorage proper.
As the day had progressed I stopped giving in to Sheila’s whining demands for attention.
In fact, I started sketching her as she sat near me, staring at me. She didn’t much like this and would turn away from me. She would go back and forth between Mom/ Lolly, checking them out as they packed for Sunday’s trip to Hesketh, and myself, until she got annoyed by my staring back at her.
Lolly’s interpretation was that Sheila was on high alert because she recognized packing behavior and didn’t want to be left behind.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 9

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, Part 1



I made a commitment to sketch all of Dad’s sculptures today. Dad took a sculpting class at one of the local colleges back in the 60’s. I had grown up with these sculptures sitting around the house for the whole time I was growing up. Father had never formally studied drawing or taken any anatomy classes, other than what he needed to go through medical school back in the early 50’s. (Duh). It has always impressed me at how good it was and what a shame it was that he didn’t stick with it. Later on, he carved our front door out a solid sheet of mahogany, in Inuit pictographs, telling the story of “Little Red Riding Hood”. And he took a ceramics class in the early 80’s, not long before his fatal third heart attack in 1984. 
The sculpture of the negress is made of clay, with a semi-gloss black glaze, measuring about 1.5 feet high. It sits atop the baby grand piano in the living room. I used to stare at it when I practiced my piano lessons in Jr. High and High School.
"Eve Emerging From The Clay" (my title; I don't recall if Father ever named it) is of soap stone. polished silky smooth on most of the flesh area, but left course in others, to (I assume) symbolize her intermediate state. It is not quite 1' long.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 8


SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2011, Part 2

Mom reported on Ramona Signs’ wake.
Paul Signs was looking good. His eldest son, whom I’ve never met and is now in his 60’s (and who’s name I do not know), from his first marriage, was there, as were all the kids he had with Ramona. I regret not going to the wake with Mom, but I’m glad I was able to finish touching up the dragon on the front of the cabin. I feel like I’m communing with Dad from beyond the grave somehow. I feel that I’m preserving his artistic legacy, memorializing him.
Mom told me that Paul reminisced about the incident where I accidentally broke one of the Signs kid’s shoulder while rough-housing. I would play “Cannonball” (I would lie on my back, have them sit on my raised feet, at try to launch them as far as I could) or I would hold onto their outstretched arms, spin them around until their feet left the ground and let them fly. Dad set the boy’s shoulder (I don’t remember his name either) and Paul took the kid to the doctor the following day. I don’t recall ever rough-housing with the Signs kids after that. It was sad; we all really enjoyed it.

Animation Insider Interview

I did an on-line interview with Mike Milo's Animation Insider site a couple months ago and it was finally posted today. Check it out; it's a really interesting site for all those interested in animation.http://www.animationinsider.com/2011/08/bradley-c-rader/

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 7


MY ALASKA VACATION, 2011

SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2011, Part 1

It was raining hard when we woke up this morning. Last night’s dark clouds were not a vain threat.
Dennis, Carrie and Will slept in a tent, rather than in the cabin with the rest of us. They informed us that it rained really hard during the night. I sleep with earplugs; I was blissfully unaware.
One of the smaller windows in the cabin façade was covered with water droplets. Lolly found this curious, as it was covered by the roof’s eaves. I ventured that the rain had bounce off the stepladder I had left leaning against the house, but this seemed improbable. However, Dennis later made the same speculation, unprompted by either Lolly or I.
I was ambivalent about the rain; it meant I wouldn’t be able to finish painting the Tlingit Dragon Sigil on the cabin façade. On the other hand, I had an excuse to be lazy.
Mom and Amy left around 10:00 AM to return to Anchorage. Mom had a memorial to attend, and Amy had a modeling job that afternoon. I considered returning with them to attend the memorial (for Ramon Signs, the wife of Paul Signs and the mother to 3 kids near my younger siblings ages we used to play with as children in the late 60’s/ early 70’s). I don’t remember why I didn’t; I regretted it later.
As it happened, the rain stopped around 10:30 and it became semi-sunny soon after. I completed painting the black parts of the Dragon Sigil by 12:30 PM. We had no salmon, white or jade colored paint, so I was unable to complete the project. However, Carrie, watching me work, pronounced that the job wasn’t nearly as daunting as she’d anticipated, and predicted that she might finish it later.
I was surprised by my lack of pain when I awoke this morning. Usually, when I overdo things with my ankles, I suffer for it the next day. I had been standing as I worked for about 4 hours, which definitely qualifies. I was pretty achy as I finished the task but I was actually more bothered by my low back than my ankles. I was pretty wiped out though; I couldn’t stay awake for the drive back to Anchorage, and, when we arrived, I crashed out until about 6:00 PM.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 6



MY ALASKA VACATION, 2011

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011, Part 3
After dinner, Lolly and I pull out our guitars and jammed. Carrie, Amy and Mom sang along, mostly to Beatles songs, but some other stuff too, depending on what Lolly had brought in the way of sheet music. Occasionally we sounded pretty good.
Around 9:00 PM, Carrie announce that she, Dennis and Will were going on a boating expedition to Meadow Creek, on the other side of Big Lake. She invited me along, insisting that I bring a sweater and rain slicker even though the day was still warm and sunny. We set off in Dennis’s powerboat, Carrie and Will on the bow, I sitting inside under the visquine cover, Dennis captaining. Sheila, Lolly’s Australian Shepard bitch, moved aimlessly around the boat.
It took 20 minutes to reach the stream head on the marshy flats. This was the wet lands/ estatuary part of the river. Swamp grass was as high as our heads, cutting off the view. There were lots of lotus-like flowers growing out of the water, and bird nests (which were pointed out excitedly and I was unable to spot). Muskrats swam out of our way. Carrie pointed out a beaver lodge in the center of the water way, which was barely twice the width of or boat and shallow to the point that sometimes I could feel us scraping the top of the swamp grass waving languorously beneath us. Small cabins were scattered throughout the swampy plane with “No Trespassing” signs posted nest to moored flat-bottom boats.
After about 30 minutes of this, Dennis killed the motor and we drifted in the waning light. Frankly, I was tired and bored, so I lay down in the on the bow. Sheila kept me from dozing off as she moved excitedly around me; at one point Carrie had to grab her to keep her from jumping overboard. “She hasn’t learned”, Carrie critiqued. Apparently this had happened before. All this noise bothered Carrie; she wanted silence so she could appreciate the sounds of nature. Dennis voiced a desire to spend the night there, moored to the creek-side. He couldn’t figure a way to keep the insects at bay though. I tried to overcome my boredom by approaching the experience as meditation. I might as well be here as anywhere. I abstained from asking what the plan was, specifically when we were due to return back to the cabin. After a while, Carrie asked how I was doing. I said I was tired, so Dennis fired up the motor and we returned as we came.
By this time it was almost 11:00 PM. The twilight sun skimmed the tree lined, hilly horizon. Overhead, the sky was obscured by dark clouds, lit bright orange and purple by the lingering sunset.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 2


JUNE 22, 2011, Part 2
Around 11:30 AM, Cousin Janet arrived. She asked what I was doing later. She wanted to introduce me to Angie, 17-year-old adopted daughter of Julia, one of Janet’s best friends. Angie’s goal is to be a Manga artist, and Janet wanted me to take a look at her work. Julia and Angie lived near-ish by, so Janet and I arrived around noon.
Julia was tall, thin, white haired (women in Alaska don’t seem to feel the need that Los Angelina’s have to dye their hair as middle age sets in), bobbed short. Angie is a pretty, slightly pudgy, Raven-haired girl. Julia asked for advice on how Angie could best apply for art schools. (I confessed to having not a clue.) Angie showed some recent work, a manga inspired 6 page comicbook sequence drawn in a spiral bound sketchbook. She had fairly good drawing chops for a teen-ager, and I told her so.
On the drive over, Janet warned me that Angie was head-strong, arrogant, too sure of herself. “She does most of that talking, isn’t inclined to listen. I didn’t find this to be the case, though Janet later told me that Angie had been on her best behavior. Angie accepted with good grace my lack of interest in Manga; to me Manga was just another style. I came up with a list of American cartoonist I recommended she investigate. She pulled out an iPad and did so as I wrote, looking up Alex Toth, Russ Heath, etc. I told here she needed to work on, well, everything. If she wanted to do what I do, she would have to be able to draw anything, from any angle, doing anything, at any time of day, in any weather condition. This skill could be applied to drawing Manga or anything the hell else she wanted to draw.

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 5


MY ALASKA VACATION, 2011

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011, Part 2
Around this time Carrie and Will arrived in their SUV; a few minutes later, Dennis rode in on their aluminum outdoor motorboat. Dennis and Carrie were dismissive of my insistence on going to the store; Dennis didn’t see the need for the caulk; Carrie didn’t want to have to build up her chi to do a big work project so soon after their arrival. I assured her that this way my initiative; they didn’t have to lift a finger. Lolly wasn’t much into making a trip, but I insisted: What was the big deal? We had a window of opportunity; it was warm and sunny; let’s do it.
At the hardware store, in nearby Houston (Houston, Alaska, a small town we passed en route to the cabin), I saw a disposable paper jump suit. “What a great idea”, thought I. “Now I wont have to mess up my clothes”. However there was only one size available, which was just BARELY fit. I gave myself a wedgie every time I lifted my arms my shoulders to the great amusement to the spectating swimmers and sunbathers. I posed for several photos. A straw sun hat completed the ensemble.
The jump suit’s too-smallness also verged on the dangerous: If I reached out too far to the left, the paper fabric threatened to pull me off balance, which was precarious in any case.
As time wore on, I was worried that I’d run out of steam. I have weak ankles that can start to pain me if I’m on them for more than an hour. I worked alone for much of the time. Lolly joined me after a while, painting most of the window frame, and Amy finished up. I repainted about half of the Tlingit dragon before I ran out of steam and had to give up for the day, although I helped Lolly and Amy with the parts of the window frame they couldn’t reach.
Early on, Mom kibitzed that her primary concern was the window frame, not the dragon. I was annoyed; there were four other adults loitering around who could join in any time they wished. I diplomatically pointed out that the new caulk needed time to dry before it could be painted.
We finished up around 7:30 PM, when Dennis fired up his propane grill and cooked up cheeseburgers and corn on the cob.

Friday, August 12, 2011

MY ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 4


MY ALASKA VACATION, 2011

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011, Part 1

We arrived at our family cabin at Big Lake while it was still morning, traveling from Anchorage in 2 vehicles. I was a passenger with Lolly in her car; Mom drove the other, with my college age niece Amy along for the ride. My other younger sister, Carrie, her husband, Dennis, and my 9 year-old nephew, Will, arrived in the afternoon.
It was hot and sunny all day, finally clouding over around 10 PM, though one wouldn’t notice it because the twilight sun was so low to the horizon that the dark clouds above didn’t block it out before it finally ducked behind the horizon, sometime around midnight.
After lunch, Mom put me to work re-painting the front picture window frame, and the Inuit Dragon protective sigil that my father had drawn, designed and carved into the façade of the cabin, and the family had painted some 35 years prior. Actually, the way this went down was: Mom casually mentioned that they had scraped the old paint off the window frame 2 weeks prior and that she was amazed how much work the spiders and other insects had done since then in that short period of time. I took the hint and started earning my keep. I was amazed at how inadequate was the previous job of scraping. Mom directed me to the ladder stored under the porch; it was homemade from 3” x 5”, 9’ tall and HEAVY. It barely reached the top of the window frame, creating a triangle the bottom of which was 2’ from the wall.
As I began re-scraping the window frame, I saw that the Eskimo dragon’s paint, especially the black, was fading and cracking/peeling. I resolved to give it a touch-up as well as the window frame. I went over it with a stiff 10” long, 2.5” wide bristle brush, getting rid of the insect schmutz and much of the old paint. While thus engaged, I noticed that the original caulk between the upper part of the window frame and the cabin façade was decayed and coming loose. Lolly told me that we had no more caulk or black paint. I insisted we make a run to the nearest hardware store.

 TO BE CONTINUED

Thursday, August 11, 2011

MY ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 3


JUNE 22, 2011, Part 3

I gave Angie some drawing tips, starting with a head measuring system I learned from one of my teachers, Carol Police, in art school. (Briefly, when drawing from life, measure the subject’s head (or anything else) with one’s drawing utensil.  Measure how many heads high the subject is. Next, on the drawing paper, lightly divide the space into however many heads high the drawing will be. Do the same for width. Start drawing. This allows one to draw quickly and accurately, without having to do a lot of re-drawing if one mis-estimates in the beginning). I demonstrated for her, sitting on the couch and having her sit as far away from me as the small living room would allow.  I directed her to sketch me using the method described, measuring my head with her pencil, asking her, “How many heads tall am I… three?” (“No, four”); “How many heads wide am I?” (“You mean short-wise?” “No, long-wise. The long head measurement will be what you use for the entire drawing.”)
She spent 20 minutes sketching as I pontificated, not freaking out or getting flustered as I gestured and shifted my position several times. I directed her to include the couch, coffee table and picture window behind me. She arrived at a halfway decent drawing. I was impressed and told her so.
I tried to teach her a observational technique I’ve use on other young students: study multi-figure photographs in order to figure out where the camera eye is or horizon would be if it weren’t completely blocked by all the objects in the photo. (If you can see the horizon, it doesn’t count). When I’ve tried this in the past, it tends to be difficult for the students, at least at first. Angie got it right away, not even working up a sweat.

LATER
This drawing is a self-portrait of sorts, done while lying in bed in the bedroom I grew up using from age 5 to 17.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 2

JUNE 22, 2011, Part 2
Around 11:30 AM, Cousin Janet arrived. She asked what I was doing later. She wanted to introduce me to Angie, 17-year-old adopted daughter of Julia, one of Janet’s best friends. Angie’s goal is to be a Manga artist, and Janet wanted me to take a look at her work. Julia and Angie lived near-ish by, so Janet and I arrived around noon.
Julia was tall, thin, white haired (women in Alaska don’t seem to feel the need that Los Angelina’s have to dye their hair as middle age sets in), bobbed short. Angie is a pretty, Raven-haired girl. Julia asked for advice on how Angie could best apply for art schools. (I confessed to having not a clue.) Angie showed some recent work, a manga inspired 6 page comicbook sequence drawn in a spiral bound sketchbook. She had fairly good drawing chops for a teen-ager, and I told her so.
Angie accepted with good grace my lack of interest in Manga; to me Manga was just another style. I came up with a list of American cartoonist I recommended she investigate. She pulled out an iPad and did so as I wrote, looking up Alex Toth, Russ Heath, etc. I told here she needed to work on, well, everything. If she wanted to do what I do, she would have to be able to draw anything, from any angle, doing anything, at any time of day, in any weather condition. This skill could be applied to drawing Manga or anything the hell else she wanted to draw.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MY ALASKA VACATION, 2011 Part 1

JUNE 21, 2011
It was still daylight in Anchorage when my flight landed at the Ted Stevens International Airport, at 10:00 PM.  (It was Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year). My youngest sister, Lolly, was waiting for me on a bench in Baggage Claim near the sliding glass doors to the parking structure. She didn’t tease me about missing my connecting flight from Seattle (I had misread my ticket, arriving at the gate after the flight had already boarded and all the stand-by had been given away. I was lucky to get a flight that was only one hour later.)

JUNE 22, 2011
Wednesday morning, Mom took me to visit Aunt Caroline and Uncle John (Rader), who live on the other side of Anchorage, near the airport. Uncle J. and Aunt C. were in the driveway doing yard work when we arrived.  I think Aunt C. was glad we were visiting; this was the first time Uncle J. had been physically active in several months and she was afraid he would over-do. He’s been doing better than he has in about 5 years, but there was no point in pushing it. He had lost a lot of weight since the last time I’d seen him, a couple years ago. As Mom and I were driving up to their house, I sawing him first from behind, tall and gaunt looking, completely covered in a gray hooded sweatshirt and black sweat pants. I didn’t recognize him until he turned around.
Aunt C. led us inside and we sat around the informal dining table, with Uncle C. sprawled out on the near by couch. I noted that John was lucid, holding up his end of the conversation. (This was an improvement over the last few times I’d seen him.) Aunt Caroline seemed to be her same old self as far as I could see. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Waiting At the Bank



Back in mid July, my spouse and I were waiting to do business at our local bank. Here are some sketches of the event.

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