Jan 27, 2011
Here are some more photos Yun and I took in Cambodia. There is a great website called Blurb. You can make one of a kind coffee table books for yourself. The quality is amazing. We did one of France and now Cambodia. It's a great way to keep your photo memories. When you look at this book you should click on the little icon next to the blue Blurb logo in the lower right hand corner. It will show you the book full screen.
Jan 25, 2011
Valerie Begue was named Miss France in 2008. I guess on her application she failed to mention some of the photos she had posed for previously. There was the one of her laying on top of a giant crucifix wearing a bikini and floating in a swimming pool. I'm not sure how that shot could have slipped her mind. Then there were the ones of her licking evaporated milk or yogurt off a table in a very suggestive manner. I can see not remembering those ones. Her hair and makeup weren't so good in those. Then there was the wet t-shirt, nip showing shots too. Oops, forgot about those. Being truthful has clearly gone out of vogue in the past decade or so. Truthiness has taken over. Alex Rodriguez looks into the camera and says he never did steroids. Then he has to back pedal when his truthiness is exposed. Newt Gingrich leads the way in impeaching Clinton for having an affair. Then it comes out that he too was having an affair while he was saying how terrible it was to do so. Old Charlie Rangel forgot to pay taxes on a few of his vacation homes. That happens to me too sometimes. Forget about the fact he has like four rent controlled apartments in Manhattan. People love to pad their resumes. Add a little truthiness. When I was a kid, I went to Catholic school. There was a clear demarcation when it came to lying. Either you told the truth or you didn't. No truthiness. Now it has become the norm in our society. Everyday politicians, celebrities, and everyday citizens accept the fact, that well, everyone else does it, so why shouldn't I. The only good thing to come out of all this is the fact that I found this funny shot of Miss France to make a painting of. If she hadn't been in some sort of scandal then I would have never come across her photo. Sometimes it pays to fib.
Jan 22, 2011
I must admit I watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Jersey Shore. The reason I watch is because all the people appearing in these shows disgust me. It's three car wrecks I can't turn my eyes away from. All the people in these shows have one thing in common, entitlement. Each believes they are far superior beings to all others on earth. They are convinced they are on television because there was some great destiny for them. That it was only a matter of time until they were discovered. I know some people who have met the Jersey Shore assholes and they said that they are unbearable to be around. All of these reality shows have become so popular that I think they are spreading a kind of disease to the rest of us. Entitlementitis. Most people today sort of walk around feeling that they too should be discovered and put on a television show of their own. After all, inside they feel they too are better than the average Joe. I notice this in action when I am on vacation. At the great temples of Angkor Wat, there are certain sections that are roped off to the public. They don't want people to cause damage. Yet people have no problem jumping over the ropes and running all over priceless artifacts. They jump and climb all over the roots of the trees even though there are ropes letting you know to please not do that. Parents stand silent while their kids scream and yell and run all over precious objects. Taking pictures of their entitled selves. It is quite shocking yet not unexpected. Being Buddhist temples, people are asked to dress appropriately. No shorts or skirts. Women should cover up a bit more than usual. But no, when you get there the entitled people of the world do whatever they please. After all, they are future reality television stars. Unwritten rules are for other people, not me, me, me.
Jan 12, 2011
I have been asked once again by Rama Hughes, to participate in his art school project. He teaches art in a grammar school. For a project, he has the kids each write to a different artist. One of those would be me. I like to send my kid a real drawing that I did. This is the one I have prepared for my student. I also throw a few prints and stickers. There is no way I will let my student down.
Jan 11, 2011
I have a new channel on Vimeo. It's really just all my videos stored on the Vimeo site but it looks cool. It's the same stuff I have on YouTube. You might as well check it out. Feel free to subscribe to my channel so it looks like I'm a happening dude. Or you can just post a message saying I'm a hack and a loser. I always appreciate that kind of stuff.
Jan 10, 2011
Jan 6, 2011
Jan 4, 2011
This is a short film about me drawing in Cambodia. There is one scene in the film where I am surrounded by a lot of people watching me draw. A whole lot of people. Most artists do not like to perform under that kind of scrutiny. I on the other hand am insane and I thrive on that kind of situation. You can also see that the drawing I was doing in that scene was my best one in Cambodia. That kind of scene happens to me a lot. It only gets filmed if Yun, my wife, happens to be around. Usually she is off doing something else and it is too hard for me to try and set up a tripod and film it myself. At least she was able to capture that scene. It's what makes drawing fun and hard for me at the same time.
Ta Prohm is a temple at Angkor Wat. It is by far the single most amazing visual to see in Cambodia or in the world for that matter. The great thing about drawing is that it forces me to sit quietly and just observe something beautiful for very long stretches of time. I must study every inch in order to make my paintings have all the rich detail in them. Funny enough, I've become like a Buddhist monk communing with nature before me and clearing my mind of all other thoughts. By being here a few hours there were moments when there was quite a few tourists but there were also moments when I was all alone. The only human sitting in front of this incredible structure. By coincidence I did a television commercial for the World Monument Fund a bunch of years ago. The director gave me a print by famed photographer Kenro Izu. It happened to be a print of Ta Prohm. I've had it hanging in my apartment for many years so I was very familiar with this site. Now here I was sitting there. A dream come true. As I was drawing a bunch of Cambodian high school students came by. They were very interested in my show. In the midst of the kids I heard a dude speaking with an Irish brogue. I introduced myself to him. His name was Cormac and and it turned out his friend runs a school in Cambodia. Every year he comes to visit and tours around the country with the high school kids. He told me they were all orphans. Each was so elegant, well behaved and beautiful. They spoke perfect English. So sad that such impressive young adults never found a home. Cormac told me one girl in particular, Maria, was herself a great artist. I showed them all my work. It's fantastic that there are folks like Cormac and his friend in the world trying to make a difference. I shouldn't say trying. They are making a difference.
Jan 3, 2011
In Siem Reap at night everyone heads for Pub Street. It's where all the action is. Cozy little bars and eateries. One night Yun took me to a restaurant because she said Mick Jaggar ate there when he was in Cambodia. All our meals were excellent and cheap. I noticed something about the Cambodians. In most third world poor countries everyone smokes. The cigarette companies practically give them away for free to get the locals hooked. I never really saw anyone with a cigarette. It was somewhat impressive. One day Yun and I went on a boat tour of a floating village. It was on Tonle Lake. Truly an amazing sight but also very sad to see how poor the people are and how hard they struggle. All the homes and stores are on stilts. There is even a church and a school. Then you see some tourist restaurants and souvenir stores. It's a bit nutty. Yun and I had our own boat with a guide and driver. At one point a villager raced up along side us in his little boat. His daughter leaped on to our speeding boat while we were moving. Just like something right out of a Jason Bourne movie. She moved along the outside of the boat until she got to me. There was a plastic bucket in her hand with cold Angkor beers. Even though it was nine thirty in the morning I had to buy one from her. One dollar, of course. Dads drive around in boats with their little kids begging for money. Each kid would have a huge jungle snake around their neck so tourists could take pictures of them. There were little boys floating around in tin wash tubs. It was all very surreal and eye opening. It's too bad they closed off adoption from that country. Yun and I may have taken home a little girl from there to go with the girl we are going to adopt from Ethiopia.
I wanted to do a drawing of Angkor Wat. One morning I showed up early and wandered around the outskirts instead of going through the temples with the tourists. Found a nice spot under some trees for shade. Plus it was secluded so the hoards wouldn't descend upon me. After about twenty minutes of sketching I felt something strange. So I turned around to see a monkey approaching me. He was getting very close. Then I noticed some guards came from a side road. They too began to approach me to see what the monkey was up to. The monkey sat quietly behind me and the guards began to check out my work. Before you knew it there were French and German tourists all around me watching the show. I thought I was alone far from the beaten path, but no. After a while they all left and I was truly alone. Suddenly I heard a commotion and out of the jungle came two dozen monkeys, all heading for me. They were all shapes and sizes including a bunch of little babies. Monkeys were parked all around me. Odd feeling when you are all by yourself. After a while they got board with me. Some of them headed for the temple. I watched them shimmy up the columns and run about the rooftops. Most of the people there were unaware. It's cool what you observe when you just sit in one spot and let life take place before your eyes.
I posted a few photos I took in Cambodia on Flickr.
On our last day I showed up at the Pagoda near our hotel to draw the beautiful alter with the Buddhas inside. There are always landmine victims with a leg missing begging in front of this joint. It is quite heart wrenching. One must take off their shoes to enter. There is also a bunch of monks overseeing the action. In this kind of religious setting I am always unsure of the protocol. Is it bad form for me to now whip out a camping stool and park myself inside and draw? I mingle about for a few minutes trying to read the room. There was a Khmer band playing music and lots of people dropping by to make offerings. I made my decision to go for it. Parked to the right side of the entryway I begin to draw. As the sketch took shape, the monks came over to see. They were overjoyed. Every ten minutes they ran over to check it again. They started to move stuff around the alter because they felt it would make the drawing better. Angling statues so the perspective looked nicer. They couldn't speak English so they would point and nod, "is this better?" I would nod back an approval and they would grin ear to ear. At one point I looked up and it was my friend, Jingle Bells entering the Pagoda with five of her tiny friends. She and her mates were all over me. This did not go over well with the monks. They barked commands at the kiddies to move back and give me a certain amount of room. I tried to explain that it was alright, that Jingle Bells was my friend and it's alright if small children bother me. But the monks would have none of it. I was making a great drawing and I was to be left undisturbed. Jingle Bells was a little sad but she understood the drill. The kids all stayed three feet away while I finished my last hours work. When I was done the monks were so honored. They even offered me food, which I took because I didn't want to insult anyone. I'm sure it was food left as an offering but still it was all they had to give me and it was a lovely gesture. I said goodbye to them and Jingle Bells and went on my merry way.
In Cambodia we would do a lot of sightseeing in the morning and then go out for dinner and drinks in the early evening. The middle part of the day got very hot so we would go back to our lovely hotel and swim in the glorious pool. A few times I used this opportunity to go and draw on my own. I would set out from the hotel in no real planned direction. A few streets away I ran into some flower vendors. They were outside a pagoda. The flowers are sold to Buddhist's going to pay their respects at the pagoda. They also sold coconuts that were opened like a beautiful drink. Half their green shell was shaved off and there was a single lotus flower sticking out of the top like a straw. There was also a few holes drilled with some green stalks protruding from strategic points. A very beautiful object indeed. An offering of some sort. The shrine inside the pagoda was full of these coconuts. Anyway I parked my ass down in front of one of the sellers and began to draw. That peaked everyone's interest and they were all over me. Suddenly out of nowhere a four year old appeared. It became obvious I was her amusement for the day. She stayed right next to me the whole time I drew, touching the page constantly. Her mom came by to see that she was not bothering me. She wasn't. Her mom sat on the street next to cages of live black birds. For a fee, she would release two into the air. Some kind of Buddhist thing. The little girl was constantly trying to talk to me. She was barefoot and very dirty from running around the streets all day, making her all the more adorable. After about two hours of trying to talk to me, she had given up and was just standing quietly next to me holding my arm. Out of the blue, she started to sing jingle bells. Without thinking I chimed in and the two of us were singing it together. Suddenly her face lit up like crazy. She had done it. We had achieved a communication breakthrough. Jingle Bells, which was now my name for her was so excited that she made us sing it together another five times. When I was finally done, Jingle Bells gathered a few of her street urchin friends and they gave me a hug. I had made my first true friend in Cambodia.
Jan 2, 2011
Whenever I travel, I always make a ton of drawings. Locals are always coming over to see what I am doing. A lot of times shopkeepers ask if they could get a copy of my drawings. Especially if it is of their store. They always give me their information. The surprising thing to most people is that I always send prints to those who ask. It is part of my unwritten rule. It is a pain but I know people must freak out when it arrives. Such a thing happened in France. We stayed at Mount Saint-Michel. Everyday my parents and Yun would get coffee and a pastry in a little breakfast joint within the old walls. One day they saw me drawing the church which happened to be right across from their establishment. They asked to look at my drawings. I showed them what I had done. They were stunned. I told them I would send them prints, which I did as soon as I got home. A few weeks later a package arrived. I thought, who the hell is this from? When I opened it, I was the one who was stunned. It was the lovely people from the breakfast place. They send me beautiful tins of cookies made at Mont St. Michel. Half a dozen boxes. There was also boxes of caramels, books about St. Michel and also old postcards from the 1930's. Wow, I couldn't believe it. There was also a bunch of key chains from there too. No one had ever done anything like that for me before. Whoever said the French were a bunch of snobs who don't treat tourists well, haven't been to the places I have traveled to. People are great. That's what I say.
In Cambodia, everything costs a dollar. They pretty much all speak some English and they take US money. Not a bad combination. The arts and crafts, bags, spices, carvings and silver are incredible. How much is that? One dollar. Well how much is that? One dollar. It makes your head spin. Siem Reap, the greatest dollar store in the world. Yun and I practically broke our arms trying to lug all the stuff we bought out of the country. Each piece more beautiful than the next. Also everything brings you "good luck" in Cambodia. I'll explain. Just say you buy a couple of lovely carvings. You pay and are waiting for your change. They don't give you the change. Instead they say, "I will give you 2 t-shirts instead of your change, "for GOOD LUCK." You get the idea of how good luck works. Yun and I loved it and fell for it every time. The only thing that doesn't cost one dollar in the country is, a beer. That cost fifty cents. Can you imagine? What a place. I was in heaven.
If you look up in the trees as you walk through Angkor Wat, you will notice what looks like enormous 50 pound growths. They are bee hives and they're everywhere. You feel like giant bees may swoop down and carry you away at any moment. As one strolls along the jungle paths between temples you notice very large mounds just like the ones I saw in Africa. Termites. When I was drawing on the streets of Siem Reap, I heard a strange sound all around me. Looking up in the trees, I realized they were completely full of bats. Not cute little American bats, but BATS. Nature is constantly assaulting you there. From the smells to the crazy visuals. There also seemed to be music wherever we went. At Angkor there was always a traditional Khmer band playing along one of the paths. They are on the streets and in front of the pagodas. The music sounded like a mix of Middle Eastern and Celtic. Each night I was exhausted from all the assaults. I would pass out and sleep like a baby through my jet lag.
Jan 1, 2011
I have a friend named George who is a great magician. He can do card tricks that are astounding. They seem so real that it feels like real magic is the only possible explanation for how he does it. The truth is that there is some kind of trick or slight of hand to each one of them. When I draw on the street, it too is a kind of magic trick. I take a blank sheet and make what I see in front of me, appear on the paper I'm holding. When I do my trick, there is no slight of hand. I actually have to draw the picture. People get to see my magic happen in slow motion. Cambodia was no different from any other Asian country that I've drawn in. The people go crazy for it there more than any other parts of the world. As I was drawing this tuk tuk driver, people started to congregate around me to see the show. They started to yell at the driver in Cambodian. I knew they were telling him that he was being drawn. That makes it harder for me because now that he is aware. He becomes too self conscious. He'd keep running over to see how it was going. Constantly changing positions. The people on the street were now all involved too. Shop owners were moving scooters and tuk tuk's that were in my way. That activity draws more attention and the pressure mounts on my drawing trick. The drawing came out fine but I was under a lot of stress to preform. Yun and I ended up riding around in a million of these tuk tuk's. They are essential to life there. One driver even brought Yun and I to his house to meet his wife and three daughters.
Our first morning was bright and sunny, which is what seems to happen everyday in Cambodia. The first thing we wanted to do was go to Angkor Wat. We got ourselves a guide as most everyone does and headed off with our driver. Along the road you quickly realize you are in another land. Everyone is on bicycles and scooters. A few scooters went by us, with what appeared to be giant wings. As I got closer I realized they weren't wings but huge pigs that had been freshly gutted. They were tied to long poles and being driven to the butcher on these tiny scooters. A few guys were driving along with as many as three enormous pigs tied to their seat. We entered Angkor through the back door. Our guide said it was better to see with the sun to our backs. We strolled through the jungle past a cow grazing and in through the steps of the old gate crumbling in the jungle. I could hear a loud siren wailing or the sound of some type of drilling equipment. Our guide said it was the sound of the locusts. No shit, what the hell type of locusts were these? Did they have tiny loud speakers? Wat does not disappoint. It's as great as the photos you see of it.
I've flown to a million places. I do it all the time. So when Yun and I flew to Cambodia, I didn't really give it much thought. For once in my life I got lucky. We were heading into sunny and warm Cambodia while there was a massive blizzard in New York City. Plus they upgraded us to prestige class on Korean Air. I basically slept the five hours, after I had a bloody mary, of course. Our flight landed in Siem Reap at about nine at night. It was pitch black and I couldn't see a thing but I knew I had arrived in the jungle. The air was filled with jasmine. We couldn't see much on our ride to the hotel but I knew there was amazing stuff out there once the lights were turned on. At the hotel. I turned on the balcony light and there was a beetle sitting there, the size of a small dog. This was going to be interesting.
I haven't posted in a while because I was away over the holidays. The week before Christmas I had to do a photo shoot in Seoul, Korea. It was my fourth time there. I know the place pretty well now. Life is funny. I had no idea that I would grow up someday and that I would spend so much time in Korea of all places. But I must say I do love the place very much. It snowed a couple of days I was there and it was quite beautiful. We stayed in an amazing hotel in Seoul called the Grand Hyatt. It has majestic views of the city. The best part about the hotel is that it has an outdoor ice skating rink. Me, Yun and my producer, Joanne went skating one night. I still have the bruises to prove it. I did pretty damn good but I did have a few spectacular wipe outs. Hell of a lot of fun though. While I was there, my wife came to hang out with me. She visited her relatives who she hadn't seen in a while. Being that the two of us were in Asia, we decided to take a little holiday after my shoot was done. We ended up in Cambodia. In the next few weeks you will see the drawings I did. There are a lot of tales too. Happy new year to everyone.