Jul 30, 2007
I finally found a little time at work to do a sketch. Found some dumb
foreign fashion magazine. Opened it to a random page and drew a stupid
sunglasses ad. It took hardly any time at all. I colored the hair in a
meeting. I think people thought I was furiously writing notes about the
meeting. Wrong. I didn't know what to write so I thought the model looked a
bit like Lohan. I was going to write across her forehead the words, model
from a dumb sunglass ad. I decided against it because I liked the drawing the
way it was. I lot of people on flickr thought it was Lohan but it's not.
Jul 29, 2007
My niece Megan is about to go off to college in September. Going to art school changed my life and a big reason is that I found great teachers who took a special interest in me. I owe them a great big thank you. I hope my niece runs into a teacher like Suzanne Buchanan. I received a wonderful letter from her the other day and I wanted to share it.
Hi Tommy, Hope you are doing well. I just noticed that you left a comment on our department's blog. This suggests to me that you may have noticed all the links poking up to your blog from students in the Interior Architecture Department at UNCG. Let me explain. This year we are encouraging all of our beginning students to create what we call a blog.folio to record their work throughout the program. As a first assignment, and in order to get the students familiar with the idea of sketch blogs, I asked them to search the web to identify a favorite blog and write about it. I provided them with a list of my favorites (your's included) to get them started. As you can see from visiting the student links here, yours was a real favorite. In particular, my students really found inspiration in your line quality...something they are struggling with at the moment. Your work has been an inspiration to me and I know it will continue to be for my students.
Thank you so much.Best wishes,
Suzanne Buchanan Design
Suzanne Buchanan's Blog
For valentine's day I had gotten Yun a bonzai tree. Those suckers are hard to keep alive. I really babysit the thing. I fill the sink with water and fully soak the base twice a week. Always rotating it in the window so it gets evenly distributed light. I'm a nut. One Sunday morning I had nothing to draw. Mister Bonzai caught my attention. I did a very quick watercolor. Nothing fancy.
In my last post I found a blog that had only one entry and it was about me. Guess what? I found another. Check it out here. People must think I'm making this up.
Jul 28, 2007
This is the building I work in. On another note, I got another mention on the Juxtapoz magazine website. There was a story about Earmint's new CD. Many artists did artwork using the same original piece of art. Check out what everyone did with the assignment.
Go here. Also check out this new guys blog. It only has one post and it's about me. Funny. Check that one here.
A lot of times when I sit down to draw a person, they will select that moment to move. I watched this guy for a while. He just sat on his stool, umbrella over his noggin. Perfect. I sat quietly behind him and began to draw. All of a sudden the guy is up, running all over the place. He never sits still again. I am patient as hell but it is 90 degrees out. My ass is burning up, sitting on concrete steps. Finally I can no longer take it. I surrender. I did as much as I could. Probably the second I left, he sat down in one position for the next two hours. Humans are insane.
I haven't broken out my watercolors in a long time. The colored pencils are so addictive for me. There is a nice little outdoor restaurant near me on 9th street. It's called the Cloister. I sat and drew this little still life. It's a secretive joint, a bit tucked away. I was drawing just outside the gates to enter. People would stop to see what I was doing and then notice the restaurant. I felt like I was driving traffic into the place. Everyone would say the same thing, "I never noticed this place before." that is until sketchboy sat out front, facing into the garden.
When Yun and I got married, I inherited two cats. I've really grown fond of the suckers. We discovered a cat food store near me. It's called Whiskers. It's run by a guy Yun and I have nicknamed Dr. Phil. He's a tough little New Yorker with teeth missing but he knows everything about cats and dogs. Our cat, Ace had a few issues so Phil changed both their diets and now they are doing great. Yun always fed them dry food. Now they eat Pet Guard all natural canned food. Occasionally raw food is mixed in. Ace, our fat cat is slimmer and our skinny cat, Happy is a bit fuller. I always enjoy my little visits to Dr. Phil where I pick up little treats for my gals.
Jul 27, 2007
There was an artist on Sugar Frosted Goodness who said he would draw anyone for free. If you wanted a high rez it was five bucks. Who could resist that offer. Not me. The artist is from Malaysia and his website is Myfreesketch.com. It's just one more to my collection. Give it a try. It won't cost anything.
Jul 15, 2007
I have been continuing my series of drawing the great photographers I work with. Craig Cutler is surely one of the best still life guys in the world, if not THE best. I could stare at his photos for hours. I hope I get the chance to work with him again someday.
Jul 14, 2007
I don't like the feeling of being in an airplane. It's worse if the in-flight movies are "The Astronaut Farmer," and the dumb buddy movie with John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and Tim Allen as a motorcycle gang. Ouch. I forced myself to draw the same dumb drawing I always do on airplanes. Somehow mine never comes out the way James Jean airline drawings do. I just have to try, try again.
The other morning there was a huge rainstorm in New York. It knocked out all the subways. The city was in chaos. I walked over to 6th avenue. Bus after bus went by packed with people. There was no way to get uptown. I managed to finally squeeze onto one. There was an MTA worker with a bullhorn standing next to the driver. He was telling people to squeeze in. He said this morning there could be no complainers, we all had to get along. Then he announced he had good news and bad. He said the bad news was that all the trains were shut down, even ones going in and out of brooklyn, queens and the bronx. The bus fell silent. About a minute passed and someone on the bus yelled out,"hey what's the good news?" Without missing a beat he says,"I just saved $200 dollars on my car insurance." The whole bus exploded with laughter. It was a great New York moment in a bad situation.
Jul 13, 2007
Our reason for going to Italy again is Yun's love of food. I guess Bologna is the food capital of Italy. That's why we ended up there. Yun has a lot of friends who know about food. They always suggest restaurants to try. One friend knows a chef who owns a restaurant outside of Milan. So we went. It was a lot of really fancy intricate food that was way over my head. I'd be happy to have a quick bowl of spaghetti. The guy, Nicola, turned out to be a great person. He spent a lot of time with us and explained everything. He even sent us to a friend's restaurant in Bologna. the thing that makes Yun crazy is overhearing tourists with food issues. There was a couple next to us from England. The woman was asking if there was gluton in the food? Then she wanted to know if there was wheat, and on and on. Can she have her dressing on the side. LADY, this is Italy. Let down your guard, drop the food requirements and live a little for a week. The waiter just rolled his eyes. In Milan if you order a steak, they say OK and walk away. there is no discussion like in America. "do you want it medium or well done or medium rare. They just cook it one way. The way it supposed to be cooked. Rare. Take it or leave it. If you have a lot of food issues, Italy is not going to be your place. There are plenty of McDonalds and pizza joints around. Try those.
Summer in Italy means outdoor movies. There is a gigantic square in Bologna surrounded by a huge church and museum. Thousands of chairs are set up in rows. They stay there a few weeks while the movies are playing. There is a huge screen erected with speakers all around. They don't play first run movies. It's a sort of nostalgic movie festival. The first one we saw was "Faces" by John Casavettes. It is an unwatchable student film. The only good thing about it was Ben Gazzara showed up for the screening. They introduced him and he garbled some answers to the nutty questions they asked him about acting. It was all very surreal. One night they showed a great movie. Doctor Strangelove. It was very appropriate for the times we live in.
The Duomo in Milan is newly restored after many years of renovation. The first moment I saw it I thought it looked fake. It was so clean, as if it was built yesterday. I think you can see it in my drawing too. It's so old looking that you wonder where all the wear and tear has gone. Don't get me wrong, it's stunning to see. When you travel to Rome, you see nuns, priests and monks everywhere. Obviously Vatican City is there. In Milan and Bologna there are churches all over the place. You never see a nun or a priest anywhere. How is that possible. Maybe all the churches have become museums. There are churches there that look strange because they ran out of money halfway through building them. Half the church is beautiful marble with elaborate carvings. Then all of a sudden, the top half is all made of bricks. No wonder all the priests and nuns fled. The pay was better in Rome
There is something in Bologna that I've never seen anywhere else. Shaded sidewalks. There is a series of walkways with beautiful arches and vaulted ceilings. They run through every inch of the town. One night it rained and Yun and I went to a restaurant on the other side of town. We didn't need an umbrella to stay dry. If it's a bright, hot sunny day, you can stay out of the sun while having access to the whole place. It's pretty amazing to see. The other thing about Bologna is that it is very small. You start to see the same people over and over again each day. Quite a few people would approach me when I was drawing on the street. they would always say, "we saw you drawing on the street yesterday." I must have been standing out in this sleepy town. I was a regular tourist attraction. It happens wherever I go. If you want to see what the walkways are like check out my friend Miguel Herranz's flickr photos here.
Jul 12, 2007
Milan. The first thing you notice is just how expensive it is. The dollar is
so weak against the euro. Ordering some beef carpaccio and a bottle of fizzy
water for lunch is going to run you fifty bucks. The second thing you notice
is that it is a very elegant city. somehow you never really feel welcome
though. One afternoon I was drawing on the street. All of a sudden a police
car pulls up in front of me. Two cops get out and approach me. They don't
speak English and I don't speak Italian. There is some type of problem with
me which I can't figure out. I show them that I am just drawing but they
don't seem to care about that. Finally I realize they re telling me it's
illegal to sit on a little folding chair on the street. Say what? I thought
maybe they were kidding but I can assure you they weren't. One of the cops
was even a little pissed with me. Well as you can imagine I was happy to get
out of Milan. I finished my drawing by just studying the details and drawing
it as best I could in the hotel room. Bologna by comparison is a very open
friendly city and a lot cheaper too. One day I was drawing on the streets of
Bologna and another cop car pulls up in front of me. I'm thinking, here we
go again. Except these cops walk past me and started talking to a guy who
seemed to be waiting for them. He started to argue with them about a
scooter parked on the street. It seems he wanted them to give the scooter a
ticket. They were reluctant. He continued pleading with them and finally
they relented. When they were done, they came by to check out my drawing.
They were very excited and complimented me a lot, shook my hand and wished
me well. Now that's my kind of town.
Everyone has a romantic notion about traveling around Europe by train. To me it's a bit of a pain in the butt. The air conditioning never quite works, everyone stinks and worst of all, I can't really draw. You would think it would be perfect downtime but in reality it isn't. I've already drawn the inside of many trains and they all look the same. On the way to Milan, I did mange to draw the outside of the train before we left the station. I didn't really have time to finish the drawing, so I just did a small piece of the roof of the station. I knew it was a repetitive design so I was able to finish the roof while on the train without having to look at it in real life. A really nice Italian girl sat across from Yun and I. She was watching me finish drawing the station. When I was done she asked if she could look through my book. I had two with me. It's always fun to watch the expression on someone's face while they look through all my past work. The feedback makes me feel proud.
Yun has joined flickr. If anyone wants to friend her go here. She needs friends.
Jul 10, 2007
One morning I went out alone to draw on the streets of Bologna. I had my usual set up going. My stool, the bag my sketchbook out, drawing away. A young girl in her late twenties approached me from behind. She said she was part of a photo shoot. She wanted to know if I would mind if she brought a fashion model over and take pictures with me. Sure, no problemo. About fifteen minutes late she comes back with a whole crew. Photographer, assistants, hair and make up people, you name it. They proceeded to tell me it was a winter scene so they gave me a coat to wear. The shoot itself only took about ten minutes. I gave them all my information and they said they would send me the final. We'll see. If they do I'll post it. The shoot then moved down the street. All of a sudden Yun showed up. She says to me, "look they are shooting a model." I said, "no, you are married to a model.
The only thing I know about Lake Como is that George Clooney has a house there. I think it was used in the movie "Ocean's eleven." It's the gorgeous place that Andy Garcia's character lives in. When Yun and I got to Como we were not so impressed. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice sleepy little place with nothing much to do. It is quite huge and there are boats that take you to all the different towns. We took a trip to one. Bellagio. That's right, the place that the hotel casino in Vegas is named after. The first thing you notice is that no human being is in the water. In every town not a single person has a bathing suit on. What the hell is going on here. After a few hours I only saw one guy water skiing. I couldn't figure it out. There are no little beach areas for people to swim. Maybe someone can explain the place to me. On our way back to the town of Como, which is where we stayed, our boat broke down. Yun was a bit freaked out. Not me because I had bought a bottle of grappa. It was the perfect time to break that sucker out. Which I did. They finally fixed the boat and we were on our smoky, engine coughing churning way. We were happy to leave as it didn't really blow our minds. I did manage to make a nice little doodle of the place.
While drawing in Bologna I learned something new. Italy is all about shadows. No other place I've encountered has ever been quite like this. First, the streets are so narrow that only a small car can pass through. Every building has tons of green shutters hanging beside every window. They are always in various stages of open and close. There are ledges everywhere too. When I would sit to draw at say eleven o'clock in the morning, by eleven fifteen what I was drawing had already changed dramatically. At first this really threw me for a loop but I realized I could turn it to my advantage. I usually crosshatch my shadows on buildings and objects. It is a lot of work but I do it because the end result is so impressive. I found I couldn't do this in Bologna because the sun wouldn't cooperate. So I began to do something new. I would take an hour and draw a building and color it in but I would leave out the shadows. I would return to the exact spot the next day at a time that I had seen the shadows looking best. Then I would take ten minutes and fill in the shadows only. I love the end result and learned a new trick. I don't have to crosshatch into oblivion in order to make my sketches look top notch.
Another blog in Italy is showing my work. Check it out here.
Yun took me to the famous opera house in Milan. La Scala. Everyone has
probably seen pictures of it. We didn't see an opera though. There was a
classical music concert instead. Before we went Yun asked a favor of me. She
said parts of the concert were very quiet movements and could I refrain from
crosshatching through the whole thing. She said I had bothered everyone in
Salzberg, which may have been true. I was surprised we were in one of the
boxes at La Scala. It seemed to have muffled the sound of my sketching
because I drew through a lot of the show and Yun said she never heard me at
Yesterday there was an article about me on the front page of Italy's leading newspaper, La Repubblica. A lot of people have asked if I know what they wrote about me because it is only in Italian. So I did a word translation in an apple program and this is what it said."There are artists for which many words cannot be spold alone perche persentano. This and one cases in issue. Kane and a large one. Without he probably the America it would have lost one of the brilliant artists piu of last the 50 years. Tommy kane and all: art, irony, want of stulire. However enough to consult its situated one and to scopire on behalf of who it has lend its work. The rivisitazione of "the it's America and one lesson for all."
I don't know what it means but I love it.
Jul 9, 2007
Yun and I went to Italy for vacation this summer. As always it is as stressful and hard as it is fun and relaxing. The airports have gotten much worse. I arrived at Kennedy airport to see lines out the door and around the building. Quite disheartening. We survived it like everyone else. This time we went to Lake Como, Milan and Bologna. Yun wanted to squeeze in Florence but I was wiped out from all the planes, trains and automobiles. Plus Yun had been there before. I did quite a few drawings and have some tales to go along with them. You will be seeing them the next few weeks.
I am on the front page of the leading Italian newspaper, La Repubblica. If you look to the right there is a column with small pictures and a headline. Mine says Le Immagini, next to it is a picture of my painting of Batman.