February 28, 2011. My last post got me thinking. What if Van Gogh worked at Burger King? Would he offer his paintings at discount prices? I bet he would. I'm sure there were a lot of people in his time who would've put more value on a cheeseburger than one of his paintings. Those art critics in his time had no idea how important those sunflowers would some day become. It's amazing that Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime. His contemporaries had no idea the worth of those canvases stacked in his brother's house. So there's the lesson. Look beyond what the pop culture tells you has value. It's often the most overlooked things that hold the most eternal worth.
February 26, 2011. What would the "Unknown Man with the Red Beret" by Vittore Carpaccio be doing if he was alive today? I'm sure this question has kept many art historians awake at night. And then there are other questions. Why was he wearing a red beret? Was it a fashion statement? Was he balding? Was he part of some elite fighting unit? And, why was he an unknown man? Was he just introverted? Did he know the painting would have this title, and if so, was he hoping it would change his status to "the known man?" My guess is that Carpaccio just hired him to model for him because he liked his eyebrows.
February 24, 2011. I unwind with solitude. I crave it like some people crave interaction and large groups. My job requires that I spend a lot of time talking, so I look forward to moments when I can take a walk or do a sketch. I think it's an important part of my life. It's when I figure everything out. It's when I make big decisions and evaluate how things are going. It's when I take time to listen to that voice from above; that voice that reminds me who I am, and who He is, and how quickly this life is passing, and what's important and what's not. I went to my son's middle school poetry recital the other day. He recited "The Tyger" by William Blake. I loved it, and it made me think there must be a connection between solitude and poetry when it comes to the human soul.
February 23, 2011. Here's a guy I've always admired. As a kid, I spent a long time looking through my parents' large picture book of Abraham Lincoln. For some reason I was always intrigued with the expression on his face in those old early photographs. I recently came across some photos of him I had never seen before, and it is always his eyes that most most inspire me. One of my favorite reads was a large biography of his life. I think the man has a lot to teach us still. One of his quotes that comes to mind is one about the country he served: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
February 22, 2011. Here's another tribute page to someone I admire, John Wooden. Here's a real teacher, not just in the arena of basketball, but in the arena of life. I think what made him such a great coach and teacher was that he was determined to be a learner himself. He didn't wallow in his failures, he pressed on. We all stumble and fall, but it's up to us to get back up and keep going, to learn from our mistakes.
February 21, 2011. So many great quotes by this man. One of my favorites: "We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us: it's in everyone. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." The more I think about that quote, the more I want to live it. I do believe that we were all created in God's image, but that we each choose daily whether or not to reflect it. I confess, my natural tendency is toward selfishness, but it's when I witness true generosity or love that I am inspired to change.
February 19, 2011. An early morning sketch down in Basel this morning- I came upon this little fire boat parked in the Rhine. It was a beautiful morning, overcast and quiet, but you could tell the sun would be warming everything up by lunch time. I can't remember it being so warm at this time of the year, but then again, I was wearing two coats, fingerless gloves, and ski pants. After sketching, I took some video footage around me on the street and put this together to show you one of my favorite places in our region.
February 18, 2011. A little tribute to the author of the Redwall series today. I've had several students through the years who have enjoyed reading these novels. I'm enjoying my dear wife who has now returned from Seattle. She loved the city and visiting with prospective staff for our school, as well as meeting with former staff and other friends. She said the city is beautiful, and I'm excited to see it myself again this coming summer.
February 13, 2011. I ended up doing four pages in my Moleskine sketchbook this weekend on my trip to Hannover and back. Top left is the Badischer train station in Basel, and the rest are sketches of commuters on board the ICE train either heading towards or away from Hannover. I went in to see the city for a couple hours Saturday, but didn't do any sketching. It was a good trip, inspiring to hear from other teachers, but after a six hour train ride, I'm hitting the sack.
February 12, 2011. Here's one of the sketches I did yesterday on the train from Basel to Hannover for the AGIS conference I'm at. (Association of German International Schools) I'm impressed with the conference so far. Good seminars and workshops, and a nice venue, although we're in the middle of nowhere, and I really wish I could just spend a little time in the city center to do just one sketch. Last night the US ambassador to Germany was the keynote speaker- Philip Murphy. He had some good things to say about international education, and the benefits of living outside of your own culture. I like doing these little train sketches, but definitely not easy, as you're really bumping along very fast on these ICE trains. By the way, our hotel is on the location for the 2000 World's Fair- quite deserted now, and my hotel faces what was called "Planet M," a huge flying saucer-shaped thing right outside my window. I keep looking out there, expecting to see some aliens emerging for lunch.
February 10, 2011. I got a new large Moleskine sketchbook in the mail last week, and I forgot how enjoyable they are to use. The paper is rigid and smooth, which makes it great for drawing on. And the size is perfect for taking with you. The giraffe story here is based on facts. Well, sort of. There really is a federal investigation into the death of a giraffe who supposedly slipped on the ice in a zoo in New Mexico. (see story) Now, whether he plays hockey or not, I haven't heard.
February 8, 2011. I'm a firm believer that it doesn't take a lot of money to be happy. I don't need an expensive gym membership to stay in shape any more than I need designer clothes to stay warm. As for hobbies, a good sketchbook will last you a long time and pencils are pretty cheap. I suppose one of the main reasons I never got into advertising was that my campaign slogans probably wouldn't sell. No one wants a product with a description "cheap and good." Well, now that I think about it, that just might attract a person like me.
February 7, 2011. I never thought I'd be walking along the Rhine with my son, skipping rocks on the water with kids in swimsuits in the middle of February. But that's exactly what we were doing yesterday. We headed down to Basel and visited the Tinguely Museum, then took our time walking along the river in the warm sun. We have a vacation day, so I headed back into town this morning and found a spot in the middle of Aeschenvorstadt, sat down on the ground and sketched a while. The tram let people off right at my elbow, and some of them almost had to step over me. A few stayed for a while and watched me sketch and make comments. I sketched this same scene a while back, but from a few meters over. (see previous sketch)
February 5, 2011. I put together a short little video sketching an apartment building in Saint Louis, France today. This time you can hear my voice and guitar goofing around on a loop I made to go with it. If it really bugs you, you can turn the volume down... The sun came out today, there's a bit of wind, and it almost feels like April out there. I think I'll take a walk.