Saturday, May 1, 2010

A sad movie

I watched a movie tonight after church, it's called 'The Wrestler'. Mickey Roarke plays a professional wrestler who was a big star in the 80's, and now he's pretty much down and out and doing small time gigs, working at a grocery store, living in a trailer, and estranged from his daughter. A lot of the movie is from a point of view just behind him, following him as he goes about his life. This to me symbolizes everything in his past... everything that is gone for him, all of his hopes and dreams and intentions, always just behind him, inaccessible, haunting him.

His character is so sad and I feel so sorry for him, even though he's not even real. He's so lonely, and he nurtures a friendship with a stripper who he might have had some kind of history with. In one scene they are in the club, talking intimately, as friends, and it is such a surprise when she asks him for payment. It was really a bummer.

It is a sad portrayal of getting old and living in the past, with nothing in the present and no hope for the future. So many people probably end up like that, and this movie makes me grieve for all of the lost hopes of the people of the world.

Friday, April 30, 2010


I will be so relieved when this emotional confusion has run its course. Many times a day I find myself fluctuating between righteous indignation and regretful guilt. Which emotion should I be feeling? Which is right? I suspect that neither are correct, and my healthy state of mind occupies a middle ground which, unfortunately, lies about 30,000 feet below and shrouded in mist, while way up here in the Alien Jet Stream, I'm hang gliding back and forth from a live volcano to a frozen glacier. I'll be glad when the seasons finally change and the katabatic winds finally fail, so I can plummet down into those misty depths. A soft bed of grass in a protected meadow awaits me, with many myriad paths leading towards an infinite number of sunrises, and my only obligation will be to choose which one to take.

Christ Pantocrator Icon

This is my second try at painting an icon. I used oils on a 7" x 9 1/2" pine craft panel. The panel is beveled on the front, so I painted on the back instead. This particular icon was supposed to be done on a much larger piece of wood, but since I wanted to save my big boards for when I'm more experienced, I used a small one. As a result, I had to really cram the details in there... but it was good practice.

I've had a book checked out from the St. Maximus library nook for... oh, I don't know how long... months, many of them. I should probably turn it back in so somebody else can have a chance to look at it. Anyway, this book is called 'The Technique of Icon Painting' by Guillem Ramos-Poqui. It's basically a complete course in icon painting, or writing, as the art is referred to when done by a bona-fide iconographer. I'm not an iconographer yet, so I'll just say that I painted a copy of a real icon.

Anyway, I love this book. It contains step by step tutorials for several different icon versions, with this one being a Christ Pantocrator icon. I going to try the Virgin Hodigitria next, which is a version of Virgin with Child.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my progress:

All I have to do now is paint the cross/circle behind His head, and add the Greek identifying inscriptions. This is how it will look when it's finished, basically:

I've painted one other icon before this one, a St. Mary of Egypt on canvas using acrylic paint. I learned a couple of important things in the process... I DO NOT LIKE ACRYLIC PAINT. It is very difficult to paint with in my opinion, because it dries so fast. Normally, you'd probably think that was a good thing... but when paint is dry, it's impossible to mix colors directly on the canvas in order to blend the edges of two differently colored elements. Oils, on the other hand, take days to dry, sometimes weeks. This makes oils very forgiving to me, as I can always go back and repair mistakes by blending in a new color. However, since they do take so long to dry, it's a lot easier to really screw up an entire painting by dropping it face down on a dirty floor, spilling something on it, brushing up against it and not knowing, thus smearing wet paint all over the good parts of the painting, etc. I prefer oils now, but have yet to try the egg tempera technique. That should be interesting.

When I finished the St. Mary of Egypt icon, I was basically pleased with the result, but I could have done a lot better if I'd had a quality reference. I didn't, so I had to size up a low resolution picture on the internet, blow it up to about 8x10, print it, and use that for a reference. Also, I wish I had painted it on wood, but that icon was the first thing I'd painted since 1996, and I wanted to stick with what was familiar, so I used canvas board. Anyway, it's framed now and behind glass and it looks good, and it's hanging on Leah's wall.


I got a letter in the mail from UNT yesterday. It said that I've been accepted, so I can go ahead and start school this summer. All I have to do now is talk to an adviser, get enrolled, and wait for my financial aid to clear. It also turns out that I have a 3.25 GPA when my NTCC and Art Institute transcripts are averaged. So that's good, I guess.

I figure I'll just work towards a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, and once I have that, I can decide whether or not I want to go to grad school for counseling, or maybe just go to seminary. I'll have that figured out when I actually graduate. I've thought about going to seminary before, but I realized fairly quickly back then that I was in no condition spiritually or even physically to commit to something like that. However, my faith has been growing constantly since then, and there was a time a couple of weeks ago when I thought I might consider it again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Jazz Fest

Yesterday I went to the Jazz Fest. I wasn't in a very good mood when I started walking, and I was doing a lot of negative self-talk, like 'I'm hopeless, I don't know what the hell I'm doing', self pitying crap like that. Well, I was in the middle of nice, long indulgence when I slipped and fell on my arse on a random grease spot on the sidewalk, breaking my immaculately long thumbnail that my mom had painted. "What was that God? Stop the self-pitying crap? Ok."

At the Jazz fest, the first thing I saw in the first booth I glanced into was this huge Christ Pantocrator icon, amidst all of these other secular prints. It was HUGE. Wow. God talking to me again. I don't deserve such mercy and comfort but I sure do appreciate it.

Anywho, so I spent a lot of time walking around and watching people, which is what I like to do when I'm not walking around reading, and there were a lot of people at the Jazz Fest. As I passed people I overheard snippets of conversation:

"...didn't ask you to use me for a..."
"...Where did you get that big turkey leg?..."
"...these port-a-potties are so clean, the ones in Austin were so... uh..."
"...hey, that's my daughters chair..."
" huge bag of popcorn..."
"...marry the drummer!..."

And as I was using a series of stones to cross a water filled concrete embankment:

"Hey man, smart!"

I eventually found my way to where my two sisters were keeping a space for us near the stage and settled into somebody else's chair. Well, inevitably the owner showed up and claimed it, so I just went ahead and walked home. I wasn't feeling 100% that day... next year the Jazz Fest will be fun again, like it was last year.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Just about every day I walk down to the Howdy Doody for sundries and what-nots, and lately there is this lady who lives down the street who has been waving to me a lot as I walk by. I say a lot... ok, she's waved at me twice in the last week.

So anyway, right before the Jazz Fest, I walked to the Howdy Doody to grab a beer. On the way back I round the corner and there was this same lady again. She was in her yard facing away from me, her feet firmly planted far apart in a wide stance, wearing short shorts, and bending WAY over to plant some flowers. Upon seeing this, I automatically stopped in my tracks. It was quite involuntary, the stopping, more like a reflex. I just stopped, like in a cartoon or something. I'm sure it was probably pretty comedic looking... me rounding the corner and coming to a dead stop in mid-stride, with this spectacle planted firmly before me.

So, yeah. It was quite a shock to be presented with this woman's blatant backside upon rounding the corner on the way home. After I had recovered a little of my composure, I continued walking, feeling almost embarrassed to keep going as she was bound to notice me as I passed her. Surely she was aware of her... posture? And how it would look? To random passers by? Did she have no modesty at all, or was she really just not aware of herself? It really seemed exaggerated, this wide stance, and bent all the way over like that, with shorts that almost looked intentionally too small. I glanced to my left as I passed her and she immediately noticed me. She stopped, looked at me, and smiled real big smile and said a real big "Hi!" I'm sure I was blushing by that point, so I quickly said "hi" back to her and hurried on.

Ahem... wow. That definitely didn't look like the easiest way to plant flowers. Was she contorting herself that way purposefully? If so, and based on her earlier friendliness and the way she stopped digging right when I passed her and greeted me yet again, then that's twice in the last week that I've been walking along and some lady in her front yard has flirted with me. And it's the third time that particular one has greeted me. Do I somehow exude "I'm single now" pheremones? I wonder if either of them are Orthodox? Yeah right... but getting flirted with is always flattering.