Many of you know I am a pretty liberal guy. I am liberal in my politics, outlook, style, humor, love, modesty, etc. You name it, I am probably more liberal than the the person next to me (at least in Oklahoma where I live!). However, if anyone would make the leap that that means I don’t love the country where I live as much as a conservative, they would be sorely wrong.
Yesterday during the Periscope video I was broadcasting showing me actually drawing the drawing above we got into a discussion about America with some of my friends in the UK and elsewhere. I responded to something someone said by saying I am a Promise Patriot. I liked it and wrote it down so as to not forget it.
And that is what I am. I am a Promise Patriot. I believe in the promise that was at the heart of founding of the United States. I believe it is still at our heart and I still believe in it. This past month we saw that promise in action with the Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality. We are seeing it play out as well with the drawing down of the Confederate flag across the south and elsewhere.
What the Road Ahead Teaches
That also means I am not a blind patriot. I, as the founding mothers and fathers were, am a critical thinker patriot. I want us to ask hard questions. I want us to critique ourselves as if our lives depended on it. I want us to realize we are not at the end of a journey but in the middle of one, and that we have to be open to what the road ahead teaches us, not just what the past has.
Ten years ago we took one of our first big vacations as a new family. As a matter of fact, Linda and I weren’t even engaged yet (that happened a month later) but we were bonding as family. Linda, Caitlin and I went to visit my daughter Rebekah in Virginia and we went into the city of Washington D.C. for the 4th of July celebration at the Washington Monument.
Here are some pics from that day.
Looks like a Promise Patriot to me! This was 10 years ago. Makes me wonder where he is today and what he looks like. Probably a straight-laced business man in a button down shirt, who knows!
My favorite photograph from that trip. The Washington Monument behind the Jefferson Memorial.
Linda and Caitlin visiting with Abe.
Some random couple who were too attractive not to photograph.
The scene at the monument before the fireworks.
Linda and Rebekah listening to the band play patriotic music with the Lincoln Memorial in the distance with the World War II Memorial in between.
Quote by Rep. Barbara Jordan, 1936 – 1996, she was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives
I like to think of myself as mostly being in the traveler category. But I am also a tourist and go to tourist spots, especially when I am new to a location and I like that. They are popular spots for a reason and I want to see them just like most other people. What puts me primarily in the traveler category isn’t where I go as much as it is how I am looking at the places I go. I look with the artistic eye I have always had and I think that makes the difference.
Doing the Act
As an artist I am doing two things when I travel that others may not be doing. One, I am actually creating my art. Both times I have gone to Europe (and other places) I have spent each morning up early at a cafe drawing. My wife and daughters were sleeping still and I used the time to observe and create. I drew at other times as well, when going from one place to another. I have drawn in trains, planes, and automobiles.
Observation of the Juxtaposition
The other thing I do is look for the artistic moment according to my aesthetic and artistic inclination. This of course is different with each person, artist or not. I tend to see that artistic moment when I see a juxtaposition between two or more things. I don’t see it so much in a depiction of one thing, like the Eiffel Tower, though an image of that can be pretty. I instead will be looking primarily for the Eiffel Tower in relationship to a person. Someone at the Tower. Not posing, but being and acting. I have my eye and my camera ready when I am in a place like that to find that moment.
The drawing above illustrates that idea. I would be the one seeing the Eiffel Tower tattoo on the back of the woman looking at the Eiffel Tower and wanting to capture that. It’s not that I don’t like pictures of the Eiffel Tower, I tried to get a number of classic shots. It’s just that the really compelling images, the ones I truly love and am excited to have captured, show more than a place. It shows a relationship between that place and someone or something else.
Here are two photos I took during my recent trip to Europe. Both are good in my estimation, but the second one is the one that moves me. It’s the one that makes me feel like I really captured the essence of the Eiffel Tower in it’s affect on a real person.
This one is all about the tower. It’s pretty. It might be a postcard or a stock photo. It tells someone it is a beautiful site. It’s me as a tourist trying to get a great photo of an iconic site.
This is about the affect the tower has on someone. It is telling the hint of a story and that draws me to her and what she is thinking and feeling. It’s the one that stays with me. It’s me as a traveler finding out about the people of the world.
Which are you?
What do you all think? How are you a tourist and/or a traveler when you go some place new? What do you see that you think others may miss when they are in a new place?
I have started to Periscope myself drawing my napkins and sketchbook drawings. This one ended with a really cool revelation that I want to tell you about.
I drew the quote and the tree with the snake first. It was to be about travel since I had just gotten back from our London/Paris adventure. One of the people watching suggested I have the quote go around in a circle and I adapted that idea to have the first half go across the top and down the side. But then I decided to make the second have a more traditional bubble so it would be easier to read.
My Thought Process
I came back 2 days later and, while scoping, talked about how to illustrate the quote. I thought of what would symbolize ‘the end’ and the idea of a hammock, the ultimate resting spot, would be cool to bracket the bottom. I have an actual hammock in my backyard so I decided to draw in stripes as mine has, plus they would help create the bottom curve holding the image in. The hammock would be empty since the quote is about the journey is what matters in the end, not the end, right?
I decided to draw someone walking, perhaps just having gotten up from the hammock. She was naked at first. I drew the path up to a mountain and then was a bit stuck. What was going to happen behind her? The idea came to me that maybe the path could be never ending, leading off behind her to perhaps the same place she will find going forward.
Breaking out of a Pattern
Right about then someone said maybe the middle area between the path could be a body of water. One of the things I like about Periscoping is that people through out their ideas and it sort of breaks me out of my typical drawing response. I have the type of water I draw, the type of mountains, of people etc. So it’s fun when someone suggests something that makes me view the possibilities a bit different. So, that is what I did, I drew the middle area being a body of water, like a bay or lagoon.
All this was done before any coloring took place (except the tree and snake on the side).
Conscious Choices, Unconscious Results
Once I had the stripes on the hammock the idea came to me to make it a rainbow. This wasn’t hard to come up with since the marriage equality ruling had just come down from the Supreme Court the day before.
Then I had to decide whether to keep the walker naked or not. It really made no sense given the quote and the image so I drew in shoes, shorts and a top. I wanted her to pop so I made her shorts red. I had a lot of green and blue in the background so I was trying to figure out the top, considering purple. But in the end I thought a darker blue would still stand out and colored it in.
Then I had to decide what color to make the walker. I put the drawing up for the periscopers to see and when I did that, and was able to see it on the screen it hit me. The walker was red, white and blue. And what is coming up this week? 4th of July. At that moment the whole drawing changed. It wasn’t just a walker journeying. It was an American. And it was the American journey into and beyond Marriage equality.
Good Art is More than the Artist Intends
I had no intention AT ALL for it to be about that. None of my choices were consciously leading to that. But I went with the unconscious flow, my creative choice flow and it came out to be something I believe in but didn’t intend.
I love that about art.
You can find me on Periscope daily. I am @thenapkindad there and on twitter.
Quote by Earnest Hemingway, 1899-1961, American author
Hi Everyone! I am going to be featured this evening on a #passthetalentshowcase on #Periscope (live video with chat interaction). I would love it if you tuned in. It will start at 8:30 central time at @minniejen’s scope. She will introduce the showcase then hand it off to the first artist. They have 5 minutes and will pass it on. I am the last artist, slated for 8:55. I am @thenapkindad.