Archive for October, 2010

A Day for Art in the Park

Last Saturday was a last minute impromptu outing with my dear good friend, and fellow artist, Aileen Holmes to a Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles event at Griffith Park. I had just come back from MMA practice (where a newbie accidentally put a knee to my nose) when I saw Aileen was looking for a carpool for the mixer. Having no real social life of my own and, thus, no real plans for Saturday, I decided to contact her and hook her up with a carpool. After the hell this month has been, I needed a reason to get out of the house.

Waking up early in the morning was not pleasant start to the day, but I got enough sleep the night before to pick up Aileen and to make the trek to Griffith Park. We were greeted by Society with coffee, Halloween-themed donuts from Krispy Kreme, and a place to sit down and begin work on sketching/drawing/painting/etc. A few people were already setup with their chairs and easels and paints. Others were getting their sketchbooks ready for both short and long studies. A model was already in pose against the backdrop of the park.

I myself brought out my sketchbook since this was a perfect opportunity to actually catch up on my “homework” for the life drawing class I am currently taking. I warmed up with a quick gesture drawing and then a longer quick sketch on the same page. I then did a longer drawing, using the model as the main focus and ignoring the park for the most part. I could have done better, but I don’t always perform at my best when I feel rushed when it comes to my art. I finished it off with a really quick 5-minute sketch using Aileen’s brush pens. But I had fun, and so did Aileen. Just look at her; doesn’t look happy?

We got to talk with several of the members present there, both in between breaks and at the end of session. Though I usually don’t get out in the park as much, this was a fun little excursion to break out of my humdrum existence back at home. Thanks again, Aileen, for having me along. And for those interested, below are the drawings that I sketched that morning. Not bad for having my alarm wake my sorry ass up at 6am in the morning.

To My Lolo, the Most Interesting Man in the World

I usually don’t talk about my family, mostly out of privacy concerns. However, there is someone that I do want to talk about. And that is my grandfather, or my “Lolo.”

Now my Lolo Fortunato is a pretty bad-ass dude. Born in the Philippines in 1923, he fought in WW2 as part of the Allied Forces, taking part in guerrilla warfare there. Though I never imagined him as much as a soldier, he was still a war hero, and even recognized as one up to this day. But he wasn’t just known as a Filipino Warrior. He was always a great family man, and a hard-working citizen.

He studied law sometime after the war, and settled down with a family until the 1970’s, when he moved his family to the United States from his native land, so that he could make a better life for them. He accomplished this goal, raising his five children with his wife, as well as being a warm patriarchal figure for his nine grandkids and one great-grandkid. My earliest memories of him are inspired with awe and wonder from a child’s perspective. There was a magic trick he always showed us, where he would make a coin disappear and reappear on the other side of his hand. I never could figure it out as a kid, until years later when I realized that he needed his special “magic cloth” for that trick. Another old memory was when he used to show me how he rolled up his own cigarettes with loose tobacco and papers. Though he would now condemn any use of tobacco products (a habit he regretted), that habit was what made me as a kid think he was a really big grown-up compared to all the other adults in the family.

Despite now being a family man, Lolo was never one to keep idle. He served his faith, family, and his community. He was a president and founding member of SAPIVETS, Samahang Pilipino Veterans, which serves as a fraternity for his fellow veterans. He was also a Fourth Degree Knight with the Knights of Columbus. He volunteered at a local special needs school within the Garden Grove Unified School District. Even more recently, he also served as one of the Grand Jury for the County of Orange.

Even with all of his accomplishments, my Lolo was always willing to continue to learn and grow. My first thoughts of him was as a gardener with the old stereotypical “Filipino Jungle” in the backyard, complete with several plants or crops, a bird house (no, when I mean bird house, I mean a real structure, a small shack really, that housed birds!), a couple ducks walking around, and even a rabbit or two. Now, I know him as that totally chill old dude mastering the latest office software on his computer. He would call me several times to help him with fixing his computer, or to help him with some of the applications he needed to use. There was more than one occasion that the family got him a computer, or a new all-in-one printer/scanner, or even the latest laptop, as a birthday or Christmas gift.

But he wasn’t all-work and no-play. He enjoyed many things, from fishing on the lake to (much to his wife’s chagrin) partaking in a little gambling here or there. He was not a compulsive gambler, but he enjoyed the action, from the small Bingo games with relatives to some of the trips out to the casino. Hell, it was this spirit of his that sometimes kept us guessing. Even at a family pool party, when it was just the kids making waves in the water, he was not to be outdone by these young ones, and so he made a few waves of his own. Even at over 80 years, he was still one of the “cool kids.”

Unfortunately, he has been feeling ill as of late. He has been going to the hospital more often over this past year, but he always kept strong through it all. Just last week, some of the family visited him at a senior home. I recall that he looked pretty weak and fragile. His breathing was labored, but his spirit was still strong. Still, I noticed several details: the sunken cheeks, the emancipated body, the curves of his rib cage under this gown, his gray bed-head. Some of you might have seen zombies in the movies or players in make-up, but that didn’t compare to what I saw. He really looked like he was close to death, but he was still moving. There was life to him yet, even if his body didn’t look like it. Even though I suspected the worse for most of the past year, everyone still thought he had some time left.

Earlier this week, he was taken back to the hospital. He had some complications again. Recalling how he looked on that Saturday night, I decided to make plans to visit him on one of my days off. Yesterday, I had planned to go to Westminster to pick up some art supplies, and then continue east to visit him at the Veterans Affair Medical Center in Long Beach. I know I would be busy so I wanted to take advantage to see him again, and possibly even do a couple sketches of him live. I woke up that morning, and took my time to eat breakfast, shower, and get on the road. I stopped by Orange Coast College to check out the job placement boards and possible work-study. After not finding much promise there, I continued to the Art Supply Warehouse to get some scratchboard tools. It was still early in the afternoon, so I thought I had a lot of time to visit my Lolo. I made it to the 8th floor where he was staying. After talking with someone at the nurses’ station (and having a chance meeting with an old high school classmate) to find which bed he was lying in, I made my way to his room just around the corner. I was hoping to surprise him with my visit.

But it was I who was surprised. When I got to the room with his bed, I unexpectedly saw my Mom come from behind one of curtains, and said that I “just missed him.”

Apparently, my Mom, along with my Lola (my grandmother) and my Aunt, were already here to visit. The staff tried to revive him, but he apparently died about thirty minutes to an hour before I arrived. When my Mom, my Lola, and my Aunt were taken to see the body, I was literally three steps behind, totally unaware they were even there, totally clueless of the attempt to revive him, and still optimistic to see and chat with my Lolo.

I missed him. I fuckin’ missed him. I was hoping to do a live sketch of him that afternoon, even just a quick one. Now, the only way I could make a drawing of him is through the old photographs we still have.

Yeah, this post ended up being longer than I thought, unlike the time I thought I would have to see my Lolo just one more time. Still, he lived a full life. I doubt he had many regrets, other than his smoking. And he did much with his time on earth. War Hero. Law Student. Family Man. Faithful Catholic. Caring Volunteer. Honorable Citizen. Swimsuit Model. Bad Mutha’Fucka’. Hell, if you ask me, Lolo Fortunato was definitely the Most Interesting Man in the World.

I Did It All For The Cookie

Now earlier today, class was cancelled so I had the whole afternoon to figure out what to do. Now with nothing to do, my mind wandered to getting something to eat. And what I really wanted was a cookie. Now this was not just a regular craving. This was very much a madd fiending for some of that cookie-cookie crunch action. Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts aren’t selling any of their wares locally at this time of year, so I can’t just steal their stash. And because I’m a cheap-ass bastard, I don’t have the cash to buy some cookies for myself. I really didn’t want to bother any of my friends and mooch off their cookies, particularly since I haven’t hooked them up from the last time I mooched off their beer.

But then, I had an epiphany, a revelation of sorts. I knew where I could score some cookies. Free cookies, in fact! However, there was a risk involved. There was a chance that I might get hurt, but damn, I wanted that %$#@! cookie! And I was ready to spill blood to get my cookie fix!

I walked right into the local American Red Cross. I demanded that they relinquish control of those tasty circular bits of sweet dough. They told me to read this handout first. That I did. They then told me to wait. So I did. Then they called me into a small room, where they interrogated me for minutes on end, demanding personal information, such as my name, birthdate, address, weight and height. They even subjected me to these most heinous torture devices, innocently called a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope, respectively. I could feel the pressure build up within my arm, but I resisted these torments. They even drew blood from the tip of one of my extremities, to test my worthiness. But my blood had run hot throughout my body. My desire for the cookie will not be denied!

After this preliminary session, they had then finished their preparations for the next demanding test. They would suck the very life force from my body. But I remained steadfast. I recalled all my training as a martial artist for that one tense moment. Unfortunately, none of that really mattered, because the sharp pointy steel still pierced my vulnerable skin. So instead, I just relied on my training as an illustration artist instead. That was a smart countermove; I draw as they draw blood. It was a superior tactic to alleviate the crushing boredom that held me bound in my seat.

Drawing blood

But my patience has proved to be the key to victory. After they had exhausted their attempts to remove the very blood from my veins which allowed me to live to this very day, the Red Cross volunteers deferred to my awesome stamina and righteous spirit. Unable to keep me bound, they took back their instruments of doom and cut their losses for the day. I remained, and so was my constant desire for the cookie.

Even after this harrowing ordeal, no hard feelings were kept. The lady at the front desk was impressed, not only with my madd artist skillz, yo, but also with my willingness to give up a piece of myself, so that others may live. She asked me why I did this, why did I come to donate blood. I simply gave her one reason:

“I did it all for the cookie.”

I did it all for the cookie!

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Who is SpiderTeo?

An artist, illustrator, designer, Silly Little Flip, and overall one of those crazy creative types. Hey, I'm just trying to get by, and hopefully some of the stories and pictures I share here makes it worth it. Feel free to contact me at spiderteo@yahoo.com Enjoy!