Just because Christmas is almost here.......

Saw this video on someone's blog.
Couldn't resist posting it
And if you have time to waste as I obviously did?
Actually I chose to waste time....
Don't tell anyone that I'm not upstairs
Wrapping presents......
Enjoy and go to YouTube
type in "Scary Snowman"
and enjoy the rest of this man's video work.
Most of all?
Happy Holidays!!

Day 44: 2012 - Letters of Note - Your loving Santa Claus

I subscribe to a blog, Letters of Note

Every day or two or three, in my inbox, is a wonderful letter from someone of note, in the past, or in the present..........talking about something wonderful.  I would tell everyone to give themselves this gift, this wonderful letter that arrives in your inbox.

Today's "gift" - because that's what I think it was at this frenetic moment in time, was a letter from Mark Twain to his daughter Susie, talking about Santa, love and Christmas and how they are all intertwined.  I remember when my son was a little one, and he thought that for sure he'd discovered that Santa wasn't real, and he announced it loud and clear...........I looked at him and said that if Santa wasn't real, then who was he? 

And there was no answer.  I said, Santa is everyone who loves you.  Everyone who loves you wants to put a gift in your stocking to prove how much you're loved.  And at age 6? 7? I can't remember the exact year?  That answer was more than enough to let him believe in Santa for another year.

An explanation of today's letter:

During Christmas in the 1870s, when he wasn't sending horse-led sleighs piled high with food and toys to his less fortunate neighbours, the inimitable Mark Twain could usually be found at the family home with his wife and young children, often pretending to be Santa Claus. On Christmas morning of 1875, Twain's 3-year-old daughter, Susie, awoke to find the following charming letter on her bed.

Palace of St. Nicholas.
In the Moon.
Christmas Morning.

My dear Susie Clemens:

I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands—for although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples' alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister's jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters—I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself—and kissed both of you, too, because you are good children, well trained, nice mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw. But in the letter which you dictated there were some words which I could not make out for certain, and one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock. Our last lot of kitchen furniture for dolls has just gone to a very poor little child in the North Star away up, in the cold country above the Big Dipper. Your mama can show you that star and you will say: "Little Snow Flake," (for that is the child's name) "I'm glad you got that furniture, for you need it more than I." That is, you must write that, with your own hand, and Snow Flake will write you an answer. If you only spoke it she wouldn't hear you. Make your letter light and thin, for the distance is great and the postage very heavy.

There was a word or two in your mama's letter which I couldn't be certain of. I took it to be "trunk full of doll's clothes." Is that it? I will call at your kitchen door about nine o'clock this morning to inquire. But I must not see anybody and I must not speak to anybody but you. When the kitchen doorbell rings, George must be blindfolded and sent to open the door. Then he must go back to the dining room or the china closet and take the cook with him. You must tell George he must walk on tiptoe and not speak—otherwise he will die someday. Then you must go up to the nursery and stand on a chair or the nurse's bed and put your car to the speaking tube that leads down to the kitchen and when I whistle through it you must speak in the tube and say, "Welcome, Santa Claus!" Then I will ask whether it was a trunk you ordered or not. If you say it was, I shall ask you what color you want the trunk to be. Your mama will help you to name a nice color and then you must tell me every single thing in detail which you want the trunk to contain. Then when I say "Good bye and a merry Christmas to my little Susie Clemens," you must say "Good bye, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much and please tell that little Snow Flake I will look at her star tonight and she must look down here—I will be right in the west bay window; and every fine night I will look at her star and say, 'I know somebody up there and like her, too.'" Then you must go down into the library and make George close all the doors that open into the main hall, and everybody must keep still for a little while. I will go to the moon and get those things and in a few minutes I will come down the chimney that belongs to the fireplace that is in the hall—if it is a trunk you want—because I couldn't get such a thing as a trunk down the nursery chimney, you know.

People may talk if they want, until they hear my footsteps in the hall. Then you tell them to keep quiet a little while till I go back up the chimney. Maybe you will not hear my footsteps at all—so you may go now and then and peep through the dining-room doors, and by and by you will see that thing which you want, right under the piano in the drawing room-for I shall put it there. If I should leave any snow in the hall, you must tell George to sweep it into the fireplace, for I haven't time to do such things. George must not use a broom, but a rag—else he will die someday. You must watch George and not let him run into danger. If my boot should leave a stain on the marble, George must not holystone it away. Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl. Whenever you are naughty and somebody points to that mark which your good old Santa Claus's boot made on the marble, what will you say, little sweetheart?

Goodbye for a few minutes, till I come down to the world and ring the kitchen door-bell.

Your loving

Santa Claus

Whom people sometimes call "The Man in the Moon"

Day 42: 2012 - Portrait Drawing Third Session

And back to Terry's garage for the third, actually it was the fourth or fifth session as I didn't start taking photos until now.........Again, measuring, measuring with calipers, pencils, sticks.  I actually took a very thin knitting needle to class with me thinking that that would be easier. 

I'm having a horrible time with all the different versions of charcoal.  We draw with HB pencils, add a little 2H perhaps, put in the darkest darks with vine charcoal, use a paint brush to rub some of the charcoal out and about to smooth its surface, go back in with Conte to make very dark darks, then go back in with the kneaded eraser to erase out the lights.........I get so confused with the materials and which to use when...

My start....angles, angles, angles!
 My start, Terry stepping in and helping saying if I would get the darks in, the drawing would come together automatically.  Easy for him to say.   ;-))

more lines added  

mine with darkest darks started
barbara's i think

eric's i think

Day 41: 2012 - Portrait Drawing Second Session

And back to Terry's class I went the following Tuesday night.  Oh the measuring! How hard it is!!  We are to block in the face, drawing angles, no round shapes allowed......

 Sitting to the side isn't bad in this class as there are only 4 of us.
But, you can see that I didn't "quite" get the angle.

Terry's lighting the models from the top so that everyone has a "lit" model, no artistic lighting.  We are to see the roundness of the face, the progression of shadow from the forehead down to the chin.
And enter the shadows accordingly.  Darn, this is really hard and here I thought it was just going to be practicing skills I thought I had nailed down years ago!
The models charge us to take photos.  I could understand charging us if they were nude models...... but these guys are sitting there, fully clothed, in Terry's garage....and one of the women wanted $20.00 per photo!  I'm too cheap. I have no photo of that model.  Most of them were $5 or $10, take a couple of photos, that'll be fine.  I like to have a photo of the person I was "trying to draw".

Day 40: 2012 - portrait drawing class first session

Decided to get back to drawing again....it's been a very long time with what all's been happening around this house since last Spring.  Signed up to take a course from Terry Kelly, a Pasadena artist I got to know because of his participation in the Arlington Garden Artist Event.  His oil paintings of the Garden sold quickly - wonderful small works. 

He alerted a group of people to the fact that he would like to teach a portrait class, at night, for 10 weeks and I "took a flyer" as we say.  I hate night classes!

So, off I trudged to work with charcoal, an unfamiliar medium, and to work with a person who really knew how to draw portraits.  We were told to bring calipers to measure.........whoops! 

That's getting serious folks!

Here/s the model:

Here are my "starts" to drawing and then Terry stepped in and offered up some help, thank goodness

Discussions about putting in the darkest darks......

Started head too high on the page, oh well........

Trying to teach me how to do the shadow under the nose.....

And here's my final version after Terry helped me.